REV. JAMES FREDERICK BUSS
PUBLISHED FOR THE MISSIONARY AND TRACT
SOCIETY OF THE NEW CHURCH, BY
THE NEW CHURCH PRESS, LTD.
1 BLOOMSBURY STREET, W. C. 1
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S. E. 1, AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.
THIS little work is sent forth to the Christian world in the profound conviction that, apart from the Holy Word acknowledged as a direct revelation from God, and hence as carrying with it Divine authority over the faith, consciences and lives of men, all true religion, and supremely the Christian religion, must sooner or later perish from the earth, and that then nothing can avert, first, the spiritual and moral corruption, and then the disintegration, of human society; and, moreover, that the only possibility of the rational, and hence permanent acceptance of the Sacred Scriptures as thus unequivocally Divine, lies in the widespread dissemination of the doctrine regarding their real nature set forth in its pages. It is, therefore, commended to the candid and earnest attention of all to whom the Word of God is precious, and who recognize the exceeding gravity of the present Biblical situation in Christendom; as, also, of that large and increasing number of thinking men and women who, while finding themselves compelled to admit that the Divinity of the Scriptures cannot be maintained on the basis of their literal inerrancy, are nevertheless willing to be convinced, if the means of being so are brought within their reach.
JAS. F. BUSS
Kensington, London, W.
1. THE PRESENT BIBLICATION SITUATION 3
DIVINE REVELATION AND DIVINE AUTHORSHIP
2. THE SUBJECT-MATTER AND NECESSITY OF DIVINE REVELATION 21
3. THE DISTINGUISHING FEATURE OF DIVIEN AUTHORSHIP 43
4. DO OUR SCRIPTURES POSSESS IT? 53
THE NEW STANDPOINT
5. THE POINT OF VIEW FUNDAMENTALLY ALTERED 69
6. THE STATUS OF THE PARABOLIC LITERAL SENSE AS HISTORY
AND AS DOCTRINE 76
7 THE LETTER, OR OUTER FORM 93
8. THE SPIRIT, OR INNER MEANING 121
9. HOW THE SPIRITUAL SENSE IS ARRIVED AT 141
10. THE SPIRITUAL SENSE DISCLOSED 152
11. THE NEW EXEGESIES APPLIED TO THE CREATION-STORIES
IN GENESIS 168
12. PARALLEL VIEW OF THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF GENESIS 1 192
THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT
13. CORRESPONDENCES AND REPRESENTATIVES 211
14. THE ISRAELITISH OR JEWISH ELEMENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
15. THE NEW EXEGESIES AND THE HIGHER CRITICISM 259
16. THE NATURE AND MODUS OPERANDI OF THE INSPIRATION
OF THE WORD 289
17. THE CANON; OR, THE BOOKS OF DIVINE AUTHORSHIP 308
1.The Present Biblical Situation
IT is well known to every one who has followed the movements of Biblical scholarship and opinion during the last forty years, that present-day Christendom is divided into two camps in respect of the view taken of the Sacred Scriptures. On the one hand, there is the so-called traditional or conservative view, in which the Scriptures are the true and very Word of GOD, in the sense of having God for their Author just as surely and unequivocally as (say) Paradise Lost had John Milton for its author. In this view, the words used and the statements made are GODS and not mansnot even the mens who wrote them down in the various Books of which it consistsand come to men with a Divine and not a human authority. On the other hand is the advanced or modern view, the product of the movement known as the Higher Criticism, in which the Bible Is not of Gods Authorship in any sense which would make God responsible for its contents, or, consequently, confer upon those contents Divine authority, but of mansspecifically, that of the men, whoever they may have been (which is a matter of no moment for the purpose of the argument)who wrote its constituent books.
The Bible represents, for the most part, what earnest men belonging to a particular nationality of a bygone age thought about life in relation to God.
To such an attitude, it is evidently idle to look to the Bible for instruction as to what is to be believed: it can only tell us what certain unknown men in a remote past have believed; but whether they were right or wrong in so believing there is nothing authoritative to show! The modern view, in a word, destroys the Bible as a source of religious instruction for mankind today. This fact explains how it comes about that the outspoken advocate from whom the above quotation is taken found himself able to say: Never mind what the Bible says about this or that, if you are in search of the truth; but trust the voice of God within you. The bible will help you in your quest, just as any good man might be able to help you; but you must judge, test and weigh the various statements it contains just as you would judge, test and weigh the opinions of the best friend you ever had.1 It also enables us to understand how it comes to pass that, whereas, on the one hand, the Bible is revered as a truly Divine book, carrying a Divine authority, and constituting, therefore, the final court of appeal in all matters of faith and doctrine, this very attitude towards it, is, on the other hand, scorned and derided as Bibliotatry,2 a word obviously coined for the purpose of placing such a way of regarding it in the same category as Mariolatry and idolatry, and thereby branding it as a pitiful and degrading superstition.
1 The Rev. R. J. Campbell in The New Theology.
2 This term has been used to the effect mentioned in The Christina Word newspaperwhich is, we believe, to be credited with its coinageany time this thirty or forty years.
Our purpose, however, is not to denounce the modern view of the Scriptures, still less to defend the traditional one: it is simply to arrive at and depict the real character of both; and this, we believe, any well-informed, competent and impartial judge will admit is what we have here done for the modern view.
Of the actual existence of these two conflicting views on this most momentous subject, the following, which comes from a very moderate source, bears witness:
In the late General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, one of the ablest, most scholarly and most devout of the younger ministers of that Church, in a debate on The Revision of the Confession of Faith, said: The infallibility of the Scriptures is not a mere verbal inerrancy or historical accuracy, but an infallibility of power to save. The Word of God infallibly carries with it Gods power to save mens souls. If a man submit his heart and mind to the Spirit of God speaking in it, he will infallibly be a new creature in Christ Jesus. This is the only kind of infallibility I believe in. For a mere verbal inerrancy I care not one straw.
In the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America, held about the same time, the report submitted on "Revision of the Confession" contained a proposal to add to the Confessional statement on the evidences that 'the .Bible is the Word of God, a clause including among these evidences, "the truthfulness of the history, and the faithful witness of prophecy and miracle." That is to say, the American Committee of Revision appear to hold the historical accuracy--on which Mr. Denney, in the Free Church Assembly, set so little value--to be one of the marks. of the Bible being a Divine Book, the absence of which would be fatal to its claims ,to be the Word of God. Here, surely, is a great cleavage in opinion--a chasm between two theological schools [of thought] on a subject of vital importance which it were very desirable to have bridged over! It will serve no purpose to deny the cleavage, or to invent ambiguous formulae to conceal it. The only thing needful is that each side in the controversy state its position as distinctly as possible, and do its very best to make good; its case, and let the conscience of the Church, enlightened by discussion, decide on which side truth lies (Rev. A. B. Bruce, D.D., in the Introduction to Inspiration and Inerrancy, pp. 4-5)
This was written eight-and-twenty years ago; and since then the controversy has been waged in the manner, recommended; with the result, notorious to all who, take note of such matters, that the advanced, or modern view, in more or less pronounced formin some quarters more, in some less--now almost exclusively, among the more scholarly and intelligent of both clergy and laity in all the Protestant denominations, holds the field.
Nor, in view of the nature of the issue, and of the ground on which the dispute has been rested by both parties, could it be otherwise. This ground is, that actual Divine Authorship must of necessity carry with it absolute freedom from error, and indeed freedom from fault or blemish of any kind, in What it produces; or, to put it slightly otherwise, the infallibility--or, to use the modern term, "inerrancy"--in every detail, of the writing, or collection of writings, of which such authorship is predicated.
This position, as has been said, is accepted by both sides in the controversy; but it will not be amiss to have this fact before us in the very words of representatives of the respective schools of thought concerned. The following is taken from an article which appeared, many years: since, in the pages of The Presbyterian Review, an American denominational publication, as a sort of manifesto of the "conservative" party in the controversy:
During the entire history of Christian theology, the word Inspiration has been used to express either some or all of the activities of God cooperating with its human authors in the genesis of Holy Scripture. We prefer to use it in the single sense of God's continued work of superintendence by which--His providential, gracious and supernatural contributions having been proposed
The following more cautious statement from a moderate exponent of the opposite, or "modern" view, amounts to precisely the same thing as regards the point in which we are here interested:
Viewing the matter abstractly, it is difficult to understand how, if God be really the Author of the Bible in the same sense in which Milton was the author of Paradise Lost, He should not write in perfect style, and with perfect accuracy in all statements of fact, and in perfect accordance with the ideal standard in morals and religion. He is surely the most consummate Artist; He knows everything; He is absolutely Holy. How can He, possibly embody His thought in inferior Greek? How can He possibly make a mistake? How can He have anything to do with crude morality or a defective religious tone? (ibid., p. 34)
We have remarked above, that, on the ground common to both parties as to what constitutes the characteristic mark of bona fide Divine authorship, it could not be otherwise than that a waging of the controversy d loutrance must result in the victory, in substance at all events, of the modern or advanced view.
That this is what drives thoughtful and candid men out of the old into the "modern" view, is clear from the following passage in a recently published work, Divine Inspiration (New York, 1915), by Dr. George Preston Mains, who says:
It is only after the most microscopic, thorough and exhaustive study of all available sources, on historic, literary and grammatical grounds, that Christian scholarship has been forced to abandon the hypothesis of Scriptural inerrancy (p. 109).
For, the plain, undeniable truth, which those who frankly and honestly face the facts are bound sooner or later to discover, is, that such perfection or inerrancy of statement in the Scriptures as is held to be necessary to establish their Divine authorship, cannot be maintained--that is to say, it does not exist.
It is necessary to our purpose to show convincingly the incontestable truth of this assertion, which, accordingly, we now proceed to do. We do not propose to labor the point, or to follow it up in all the possible categories to which the statements of Scripture might be reduced; but merely to set it forth in a sufficient number of instances to place the fact beyond dispute. We adduce six.
(1)In the 1st and 2nd chapters of Genesis are contained what, on a careful examination of them, taken at their face value, prove to be two accounts of the creation of the universe, but starting from different points--the earlier from chaos, the later from an already existing globe (and, it would seem, heavenly bodies), destitute, however, of vegetable, animal and human life. The earlier account is very specific indeed as to THE ORDER in which the various constituents of the universe came into existence: the later, though not emphasizing, nevertheless gives, an equally unmistakable order from the point from which it sets out--the as yet untenanted globe. But the order, from this point, is totally and irreconcilably divergent in the two relations; as witness the following parallel--in which, for convenience of arrangement and comparison, we put the second account in the first column:
Chap. ii. Chap. i.
1. The earth vv. 4-6 The earth v. 10
2. Man (male only) v. 7 Vegetation vv. 11-12
3. Vegetation vv. 8-9 Sun, Moon and Stars v. 16
4. Land animals and Fish and Birds v. 21
5. Woman v. 22 Land animals and vv. 25, 27
Man (male and Female)
The point calling for attention is, that, if either of these orders is correct, the other becomes thereby incorrect; for no amount of ingenuity can possibly establish agreement between the two, and so make both correct. One account, therefore, must necessarily be erroneous: which is so, is totally immaterial to tie issue.
(2) In the 23rd chapter of Numbers, at the 19th verse, it is declared: "God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent: hath He said and shall He not do? or, hath He spoken and shall He not make it good?" Yet it is repeatedly related that God did "repent" of this and that specific thing which He had done, purposed and even explicitly threatened (e.g. Gen. vi.. 6; Ex. xxxii. 14; Jer. xxvi. 19). It clearly cannot be true both that God did "repent" on certain specific occasions, and that He does not repent because He is God, and, being God, is perfect and unchangeable, in sharp contrast with infirm and changeable man.
(3) Again, it is explicitly declared that "God did tempt Abraham" (Gen. xxii. 1); whereas the truth, which both reason and conscience at once endorse, is, that God never tempts "any man; but a man is tempted when he is carried away of his own lusts and enticed" (Jas. i. 13).
(4) Other instances of irreconcilable discrepancy are those of the words spoken by the voices out of heaven at the Baptism of Jesus and at His Transfiguration, and the terms of Pilate's inscription on the Cross. Taking these in their order, we find the words spoken at the Baptism recorded in all the Synoptics;, but differently in each Gospel. Thus:
Matthew (iii. 17), Mark (i. 11). Luke (iii. 22).
THIS1 is My beloved THOU ART My be- THOU ART My be-
Son, in whom I am loved Son, in WHOM loved Son, in THEE
well pleased I am well pleased. I am well pleased.
1 We print the varying words in SMALL CAPITALS to facilitate comparison.
Out of the three reports, all evidently purporting to give the very words used by the heavenly voice, no two, it will be seen, agree. Hence, as a matter of fact, it is impossible that all can be correct. It is impossible that even two can be correct: and it is equally impossible to know whether even one is correct, or, if so, which one it is! The only thing that is certain, is that two of these three statements regarding the same point must be erroneous.
(5) The words spoken at the Transfiguration are also reported in all the Synoptics; as follow
Matthew (xvii. 5). Mark (ix. 7). Luke (ix. 35).
This is My beloved This is My beloved This is My beloved
Son IN WHOM I Son: hear ye Him. Son: hear ye Him.
AM WELL PLEASED: (R.V.)
hear ye Him.
In this case, the question is whether the words "in whom I am well pleased," were or were not spoken. If we go by the number of witnesses, we are bound to conclude that they were not, and therefore that the record in Matthew, in giving them, is wrong; and no question as to the relative reliability of the witnesses can be involved, inasmuch as, ex hypothesi, all three statements are of the same Authorship--that of God Himself--and must hence be of equal reliability.
(6) Lastly, the words of the inscription affixed by Pilate to the Cross are given in all four Gospels; and to the following effect
Matthew Mark Luke John
(xxvii. 37). (xv. 26). (xxiii. 38). (xix. 19).
THIS is JESUS The King of the THIS is the King JESUS of NAZ-
the King of Jews. of the Jews. ARETH the
the Jews. King of the Jews.
Here, even if the consensus of testimony were held to determine what Pilate actually did write, only one of these statements of what he wrote--that in Mark--is correct: all the others are wrong--and, moreover, differently wrong; and it is, and must remain, hopelessly impossible, for all time, for any man to know the truth on the matter. It is inconceivable that such irreconcilably conflicting accounts on a single point of plain historical fact can be the outcome of even a common authorship, except on the assumption-truthfulness and honesty of purpose being conceded--of lapse of memory at the time of making the records. But, with God, lapse of memory is an impossible assumption; and, consequently, a common Divine Authorship for this array of irreconcilable statements on plain matters of fact in their different fields-to say nothing of the far larger number of such statements that might be, and in various quarters are, advanced--cannot possibly be maintained--IF, that is to say, the determining test of Divine Authorship is, as is assumed under both the "traditional" and the modern view, the absolute, literal accuracy, or "inerrancy," of the product of such Authorship.
It has been shown above, and is indeed well known apart from any showing, that it is the generally' accepted canon in Christendom to-day, that infallibility, or inerrancy, in the matters of fact referred to, is a necessary characteristic of Divine Authorship.
On this point, we speak more at large in our next chapter: suffice it, here and now, to submit, nay, to insist, that all the knowledge of spiritual and Divine things which we possess have actually come to us from our Scriptures, and we can know nothing of any worth, on such matters except, either directly or indirectly, from that source. If, therefore, there is no sure authority there, the ground is cut away from beneath man's feet, and they have no foundation upon which to build for eternity; and, "If the FOUNDATIONS be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psa. xi. 3). There is only one reply, viz., they are1left helpless and hopeless, however vociferously and confidently it may be protested to them that they are really better off, spiritually, now they know, as' the most certainly "assured result of modern Biblical criticism," that the Bible is not, a revelation by God and has no "authority" whatever, much less any Divine authority, for the modern mind, than they were when they "searched the Scriptures," believing that "in them they had eternal life," because they were a real Divine revelation to men of those things which were necessary to salvation and-heaven!
And it is because this is perceived to be the case that there has gone up, as is well known, from thousands of devout Christians, an exceedingly bitter cry against these destructive results--the only kind of results that stand to its account--of modern Biblical criticism;
Yet, as long as the Divine Authorship of the Scriptures is made to rest upon their literal inerrancy,;as long, that is to say, as the proof of literal inaccuracy in historical and other matters of fact, is held to disprove Divine Authorship, resistance must be in vain. For, "truth"--in every sphere, and hence in that of the accuracy, or otherwise, of the literal statements of the Scriptures is mighty, and will "assuredly prevail," sooner or later.
In the fullest, sympathy with the distress of soul touched upon above, we invite all who experience it, to seriously consider whether the currently accepted mark, and thus test, of Divine Authorship is the true one; or whether the true mark thereof is not quite other than this, and one, moreover, which may avail to save the Divine Authorship of the Sacred Scriptures from the final rejection which assuredly awaits it under the reign of the one now current.
We make bold here to state provisionally, and we hope in the present volume to show convincingly, that this is actually the case; that, namely, the true mark of Divine Authorship in any given document is quite other than literal inerrancy, that under it the Divine Authorship of the Scriptures is not in the smallest degree affected, much less imperiled, by the presence in them of literal inaccuracies of whatever description; and that its intelligent acceptance, invited on what we believe to be the most sure grounds of Scripture and reason, exalts the Holy Scriptures as the very Word of God to men, to an eminence unimagined and unimaginable apart from it.
In leaving this introductory review of "The present Biblical Situation," we would earnestly, invite every one who loves the Sacred Scriptures for their spiritual worth, to a patient and candid consideration of the criterion of Divine Authorship, and the new view--radically different alike from both the "traditional" and the "modern" views--of the nature of the Scriptures, which it is the purpose of the subsequent chapters to unfold, illustrate and establish.
DIVINE REVELATION AND DIVINE "AUTHORSHIP"
CHAPTER 2. THE SUBJECT-MATTER AND NECESSITY DIVINE REVELATION
CHAPTER 3. THE DISTINGUISHING FEATURE OF DIVINE "AUTHORSHIP"
CHAPTER 4. DO OUR SCRIPTURES POSSESS IT?
DIVINE REVELATION AND DIVINE "AUTHORSHIP"
2.---The Subject-matter and Necessity of Divine Revelation.
BEFORE proceeding to set forth the new criterion of Divine Authorship foreshadowed in the closing words of the previous chapter, it is necessary to consider and determine the point indicated in the title of the present one--viz., what the proper, necessary and, in truth, the only rationally possible subject-matter of Divine revelation is. The necessity arises from the fact that the generally received idea regarding it, which also underlies and reinforces the accepted criterion of Divine Authorship, is, as we submit, and hope to show, wholly erroneous.
That idea, as is well known, is, that any and everything touched upon in our Scriptures is, of course, the proper subject-matter of revelation by God; thus, science, philosophy, history, morals, in a word, all kinds of natural and worldly matters-but especially history--as well as spiritual and Divine subjects.
Yet we venture to think differently. It may be well to mention, at the outset, that what we are concerned with, is not any particular concrete revelation, such as, for example, our own Christian Scriptures, but any Divine revelation-Divine revelation as such, or in the abstract. Differently expressed, the meaning is, Granting that God should see fit to impart instruction, or address a message, to man, what are we rationally obliged to expect that the general subject with which His communication should deal, would be?
In approaching the answer to this question, it has to be borne in mind that God' is man's Creator. He, to speak accommodatively, planned man, and endowed him with all the faculties he possesses, purposing, of course, in doing so, that they should be developed and perfected in the highest possible degree. Now, all are aware that we are so constituted that the development and perfecting of all our powers and faculties, whether of body or of mind, is dependent upon their due exercise in their own proper sphere.
Now, one of man's most distinguishing faculties, radically differentiating him from the whole of the rest of creation, is that of Rationality. In giving it him, God certainly intended it to undergo, in man's possession of it, all the improvement of which it is susceptible; and this faculty is such that no limit to its perfectibility can be assigned. Moreover, the perfecting of the man as a whole, is the perfecting of his faculties and powers; and it is nothing else. And that God designed man to become ever more perfect, without limit; that this was His purpose in fashioning man as He has done, no thinking person can for a moment doubt. Hence the Lord's injunction , "Be ye therefore PERFECT, as your Father in the heavens is perfect."
It necessarily follows that God can never, in any of His dealings with man, do anything that would place any obstacle in the way of the health, development and perfecting of, especially, any of his distinguishing human (as discriminated from his animal) powers; among which, as we have noted, his Rationality stands at the very front. In making a revelation, or imparting knowledge, to man, therefore, as much as in God's other dealings with him, this principle must hold good, and must have a determining effect, within its own sphere, upon the nature of the subject-matter of any Divine revelation, or Divine impartation of knowledge to man.
This conclusion at once rules out all such matters as science, philosophy, history, morals and others of similar scope, as the subject-matter of revelation; for the reason that man's own intellectual endowments, brought to bear upon the appropriate natural objects, materials and conditions extant to his senses and observation in the world, are fully competent to the discovery of those things for himself. This is not only the conclusion of sound reason and common sense, but is equally the testimony of experience; for, as a matter of fact, all our natural science, philosophy, history and moral science have been produced in exactly this way, and in no other, and constitute an exceedingly telling proof of the truly marvelous--it is not too much to say, God-like-thing that the human mind is. For God to make such matters the subject of revelation, would, therefore, be superfluous inasmuch as God had, in creating him and the remainder of the natural universe, equipped man with every requisite for the acquiring of such knowledge for himself. Not only so, however; it would be to place a hindrance in the way of the development. and perfecting of the, powers involved, and thus of man himself, in removing the necessity of their use and exercise in the attainment of such knowledge. This argument, of course, assumes that the science, philosophy and morals made the subject of revelation would be full arid complete.
Assuming, however, on the other hand, that Revelation should deal with such themes as are in question, not in this complete and comprehensive fashion, but in a partial and fragmentary way, it were necessarily a prime requisite in such a Revelation that its "revelations" about them should be unassailably accurate, in every particular. This is beyond dispute. If the kinds of statements under consideration as being part of any Divine revelation are really intended to be taken in their surface meaning, that is, are actually intended scientifically, philosophically or historically, then, coming from God, they must needs be scientifically, philosophically and historically unchallengeable. Should they not be, the so-called revelation containing them, comes inevitably and at once under suspicion. The point, however, need not be labored; for it is, as seen in the previous chapter, universally granted.
Moreover, God has so made man that, having once come into existence, he will never cease to exist, but go on living for ever. The truth of this, no one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ can possibly call in question. "Now, that the dead are raised," He said, even Moses showed at the bush, when he
calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
Not less certain is it that no man lives for ever in this world--or, differently expressed, as far as this world is `concerned, all men are mortal. His never-ending existence is the one upon which he enters on leaving this world, which he does at the death of his! material body, by his resurrection when he passes into the world beyond the grave--the spiritual, and,--as it is also called, the "eternal" world.
But he character of his unending life in the spiritual world is according to, and it is determined by, the kind of life he has lived in this. The resurrection by which, at the death of the body, men are ushered into the eternal world, is, to them "that have done good" in this life, a "resurrection of life," but to them "that have done evil" here, a "resurrection of damnation" (John v. 29). The inflexible law of the matter, is: "He that," at the time of death, "is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." And the "resurrection of life" which awaits those alone who "have done good" in their life on earth, is to a life of unspeakable blessedness and happiness, which knows no end. The Divine purpose in the creation of the universe was the formation of an angelic heaven from the human race, and, in the creation of each individual human being, that he should spend his immortal existence in that angelic heaven. To Divine Love, no other purpose, in, this regard, is within the bounds of possibility.
At the same time, since it was Man that was being created, and not a superior animal, the characteristic human qualities, freedom and rationality, not only had to be conferred on him originally, but have to be secured to him perpetually--for, the moment they were taken from him, that moment he would cease to be man;
Of this tremendous fact, however, man could not even know, unless God, who does know, should "reveal" it to him; as must also be the case in reference to the kind of life it is. necessary for him to live here, if he is to attain eternal happiness hereafter. This puts the matter at its lowest. But, when we take account of the, boundless perfectibility accruing to man from his being created not merely "in," but to "the image of God," which is the ultimate ground of the Lord's injunction, addressed to every human soul, "Be ye, therefore, perfect as"--that is, in the same manner, though, of necessity, at an infinite distance in respect of degree--"as your Father in the heavens is perfect," the impossibility of man's ever knowing the Divine Perfections, and consequently of ever being in a position to strive to emulate them, unless God, who alone can know them of Himself, should make them known to him, that is, should reveal them, is even more strikingly manifest.
Granting the positions here advanced, it is obvious that the one thing of importance to every human being is that he should so live his life in this preliminary stage of it, that he may be able to spend its subsequent, unending stage in a state of happiness and well-being. In "the long view," it is the simple truth that, to an immortal creature so conditioned, thus; to man, nothing else than this is of any real importance. It is the one thing, and the only thing, that matters.
This being the case, in the event of God's deciding to address a communication, or impart knowledge, to man, what is the proper, necessary and only rationally possible subject-matter with which a good God who loves man could concern Himself in, such a communication? There is no room for hesitation about the answer. The subject-matter of such a communication by such a God to such a being as man, must necessarily be such knowledge as is requisite to enable him so to use his time, in the initial phase of his career, that the subsequent phase, which will go on for ever, shall be one of the unimaginable
blessedness that it may be. For God to as it were put Himself out of the way to speak to man, much more to teach him; about any other matters than such as these--about, for example, science, or philosophy, or worldly history, or human biography--would be, in the tremendous circumstances involved, nothing less than a frivolous trifling of which it is impossible and inconceivable that a good God could ever be guilty.
The kind of knowledge for which man's situation as an immortal being calls is, clearly, that of his own immortality; of the nature, conditions and possibilities of the life that follows this one; the nature, constitution and laws of his own immortal part; how to live for heaven while living in the world, so that earth may be a preparation for heaven and not for hell; the dangers that beset him, in endeavoring to do this, and how they may be avoided or overcome; and, finally, the nature, qualities, attributes and person of the God in and to whose "image" he has been created, and whose, excellences and perfections he is to endeavor to imitate, and what relations he, the creature, should cultivate towards God, his Creator. All this knowledge he imperatively needs; without it, in its essentials, there is no possibility of his making a success of his life, viewed from the standpoint of his immortality; even with some measure of it, the degree of his success in this respect must be dependent upon and limited by the extent and validity of his knowledge on these and kindred subjects and on his regulating himself thereby. And not one iota of it all is he able to acquire for himself If he is to have it, he must have it by the gift of God; that is, by Divine revelation.
It is hoped that the necessary subject-matter of any genuine Divine revelation, may now be regarded as placed beyond doubt. That knowledge on such themes could come to man from any other source than Divine revelation, and hence that Divine revelation is an indispensable necessity, is scarcely disputable.
And yet men have talked, and do talk, of "Natural Theology" and "Natural Religion"; by which they mean Theology and Religion taught by Nature, or excogitated and built up by man's natural faculties unassisted by Revelation. That atheists and unbelievers should believe that such a thing can be, is intelligible enough; for while not believing that there is any real God at all, they are faced with the fact that Religion and Theology exist. To them these things cannot have been revealed, for there is no God to reveal them; they must, therefore, be the creation of man's natural powers, exercising themselves upon natural phenomena not understood.
But there are also believers who seem to imagine that Natural Theology and Natural Religion are real entities, and that they were all that man had to go upon until, many thousands--we must, nowadays, say many millions--of years subsequent to the Creation, it pleased God to make a revelation, and to give man a better and truer Religion and Theology than he had been able !to excogitate, even in all those aeons, for himself. This is truly wonderful when the mind realizes what it involves which is, in a word, that, knowing--because He created man--that man could not work out for himself a true Theology and Religion--on which for him such tremendous issues depend--God left him without these spiritual necessaries all those hundreds of thousands of years, and took no step to supply these deficiencies until some 3,500 years ago at the earliest!
On the face of it, such a notion seems essentially incredible. To us, it certainly is so.
It is believed in the world that man is able to know from the light of nature, thus without revelation, many things that belong to religion; as, that there is a God, that He is to be worshipped, and also that He is to be loved; likewise that man will live after death, and many other things that depend upon these. But I have been taught by much experience that, of himself, and without revelation, man knows nothing whatever about Divine things, and about the things that relate to spiritual and heavenly life. But two considerations have arisen which bring the mind into doubt upon this subject: first, that the Ancients, who were gentiles, nevertheless knew that there is a Divine, that the Divine is to be worshipped, and that man as to the soul is immortal; second, that these things are known to many nations at this day with whom there is no revelation. But, as regards the Ancients, they did not know these things from the light of their own nature, but from revelation, which had spread from the Church even to them; for the Lord's Church had, been in the land of Canaan from the most ancient times.
1 The "nations" here referred to, would appear to be the savage or heathen races of the present day; and the statement that such religions as exist among them have been derived to them from remote ancestors (among whom those religions existed in probably a higher and purer form) is very interestingly paralleled in a thinker of a wholly different type, Mr. Herbert Spencer. The latter, in his Principles of Sociology, (1893 edition, I, pp. 93 and 96) has the following: "There are reasons for suspecting that men of the lowest types now known, forming social groups of the simplest kinds, do not exemplify men as they originally were. Probably, most of them had ancestors in higher states, and among their beliefs remain [of course, in a degraded form] some which were evolved during those higher states.... There is inadequate warrant for the notion that the lowest savagery has never been any higher than it is now."
Is it credible that those wise men of antiquity, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca and others, who have written about God and the immortality of the soul, first received their knowledge on those subjects from their own understanding? No; they obtained it from others, to whom the knowledge was handed down from those who first knew it from the Ancient Word, of which we have spoken above. Nor do the writers on Natural Religion derive such knowledge from themselves; they merely confirm by rational deduction what they have learned from the Church where the Word is1 (True Christian Religion, no. 273).
1 The "writers on Natural Religion" here in view are, of course, believers; such as Butler, Paley, and others of the same class-to whom our reflections on a previous page do not apply.
A Word has existed at all times, though not the Word which we have at this day. There had been another Word in the Most Ancient Church, which was before the Flood; another in the Ancient Church, which was after the Flood; then came the Word written by Moses and the Prophets in the Jewish Church, and lastly the Word written by the Evangelists in the Christian Church (Arcana Coelestia, no. 2895).
It is worthy of note that this doctrine of a Revelation prior to the one we possess--called in the second of these extracts "the Ancient Word," existing in a Church called, in the third, "the Ancient Church," prior to the Israelitish--inherently probable, we submit, in itself, derives strong support from references in the Hebrew Scriptures to certain named "Books" from which quotations are there made just as if they, and the Books from which they were taken, were Divine.
1 A better rendering would be, "The Enunciators,"--parallel in form, as will be noted, to the expression, "The Prophets," for our prophetic Books as a whole.
To the BOOK OF JASHER
"Then spake Joshua to Jehovah, in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. "And2 the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." Is not this written in the Book of Jasher?'" (Josh. x. 12, 13).
2 We have indicated by subsidiary quotation marks the portion of Joshua's speech on this occasion that seems to be taken from the Book of Jasher. The situation would appear to have been that, in the crisis of the battle raging before his eyes, Joshua, perceiving the desirability, in the interests of Israel, of a prolongation of the hours of daylight, suddenly bethought him of some words in the Book of Dasher, which he had read or of which he had heard, and was moved by the recollection to invoke, to appearance the sun and moon, but in reality "Jehovah," in the terms he does.
"And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: (also he bade them teach the children of Judah the bow; behold, it is written3 in the Book of Jasher)"--2 Sam. i. 17, 18.
3 What it is that is written in the Book of Dasher is, in this case, impossible, in the present state of knowledge, to determine, and unprofitable to conjecturealthough conjectures are not lacking. It may be well to mention that several so-called "'Books of Jasher" have been presented to the world; but while some are manifest frauds, written (in part) to fit the above references, none can be assigned to a date early enough to have been cited by the writers of the Scripture Books in which they are mentioned.
To the BOOK OF THE WARS OF JEHOVAH:
"Wherefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of Jehovah, What he did in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon, and at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the borders of Moab (Num. xxi. 14, 15).
To "THEM THAT SPEAK IN PROVERBS" (better, "THE ENUNCIATORS"--see foot-note on previous page):
"Wherefore, they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: for there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon; it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. Woe to thee, Moab; thou art undone, O people of Chemosh; he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon King of the Amorites. We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba1 (Num. xxi. 27-30).
1 That these are prophetic enunciations, not "proverbs," is at once evident; but the fact is placed beyond doubt by the following strikingly similar, and in some respects even almost identical, language in our own admittedly prophetic Book of Jeremiah: "A fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones. Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives and thy daughters captives" (Jer. x1viii. 45, 46).
This doctrine of a Divine Word prior to the present one derives independent corroboration, moreover, from Biblical archeology, by its discovery of the Assyro-Babylonian accounts of the Creation and the Deluge, and other legends handed down in the mythology of all nations, civilized and savage, relating to, practically, every subject dealt with in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. That these chapters have a peculiar character of their own, radically differentiating them from the whole of the remainder of those Scriptures to which they are the introduction, is commonly, we may almost say universally, recognized amongst Biblical scholars; and much, of various kinds and differing value, has been written regarding the problems presented by the nature of this difference. A comparatively recent little work devoted exclusively to this subject, is, The early Narratives of Genesis: a brief Introduction to the Study of Genesis i. xi.; by Professor Herbert Edward Ryle, B.D.; from which we presently make an extract relating to the Assyro-Babylonian legends referred to above. In the meantime it is sufficient--and highly important--to mention that these legends present so many and such striking resemblances to the Genesis narratives, that, on their first discovery, it was at once taken for granted that they were originally derived from Genesis, and had subsequently degenerated into their present corrupt and polytheistic form, from long tradition in a polytheistic environment.
We are ignorant of the time at which the Hebrews received these stories from their Babylonian sources; while, in their Biblical form, they exhibit so many differences from the Babylonian, as to make it probable that the materials were used by the writers of the Pentateuchal documents only after long tradition within a Hebrew atmosphere (Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament, pp. 61, 62).
That this, however, although so confidently put forth, is by no means a necessary conclusion, still less an established truth, is shown by Professor Albert T. Clay, writing in 1907:
It is quite within the range of possibility and reasonableness to conceive the idea that both stories have a common origin among the Semites who entered Babylonia prior to their amalgamation with the Sumerians, and who may have also carried their traditions into Palestine.
We ask the reader to pay special attention to the closing sentence of this extract, as we shall have to refer again to it presently. At the moment, we adduce the statement from Prof. Ryle which we promised above. It will be observed that it is more positive in tone than Prof. Clay's statement on the same point, just cited
Both the Hebrew and the Assyro-Babylonian traditions are derived from a primitive and prehistoric common origin. The Hebrew ancestors of the people of Israel were members of the same stock as the founders of the great empires on the Euphrates, and received from yet earlier ages the traditions of the past.... Despite the variations in points of detail, the identity of the two narratives is indisputable. But, while the Assyro-Babylonian narrative reproduces the character of the mythology which marks the religious thought of the great world-empires of the Euphrates valley, the Hebrew narrative has come to us stripped of the old (!?) idolatry (The Early Narratives of Genesis, p. 111 ).
It is assumed here, it will be noted, that the common original from which it is postulated that both narratives are derived, contained the idolatrous features which characterize the Assyro-Babylonian version, and that this version is truer to the original than the Genesis one. Prof. Clay's view, on the other hand, would seem to imply that the polytheistic features of the Babylonian version were an accretion acquired in Babylonia, and that the Genesis narrative, in its freedom from those characteristics, preserved the character of the original, and is the one that is true to it.
Another writer, commenting upon the claim of Prof. Sayce--which is the same as that of Prof. George Adam Smith, quoted above--that the resemblances between the Genesis and Babylonian accounts "compel us to believe, not only that the two accounts are from the same source, but that the Hebrew is from the Babylonian," definitely advances the position indicated in our last sentence; remarking:
The view of a pure original for all alike is not entertained [by Prof. Sayce and those who think with him]. And yet that view might have reasonably led to the conclusion that the Hebrew story is a genuine transcript of that original; while the Babylonian is only a monstrous travesty of it (Exodus: An Autobiography of Moses, by J. M. Denniston, M.A.).
In view of all this divergence of opinion, how satisfying, to any mind free from anti-revelation bias, is Swedenborg's doctrine of an Ancient Word, in possession of an Ancient Church prior to the Israelitish, having its primeval habitat in Canaan, from which, as a centre, the essential religious concepts were disseminated to surrounding countries, together with much of the contents, and in some cases even veritable copies of their Word; from certain Books of which, as noted above, quotations are avowedly embodied in our Scriptures!
This doctrine of an Ancient Word, as above presented, furnishes, to say the least, a highly probable explanation of the peculiarities of style which notoriously differentiate these chapters from the whole of the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures; and it is found, in practice, to throw a flood of light upon the various problems presented by these chapters, and by numerous other Scriptures in the remaining Old Testament Books. This is why we place it before the reader here, and not by any means as requiring his acceptance of it at this stage of the inquiry.
We shall have to return to this subject in a subsequent chapter.
3.--The Distinguishing Feature of Divine "Authorship."
ATTENTION was drawn, in the introductory chapter, to the universally accepted view that any composition of which God is the Author would differ from a human composition in the respect of being free from all imperfections, judged from the same standpoints as that from which we judge the products of human authorship; and it becomes evident, on examination, that this is the only respect in which it is considered that any difference is to be looked for. In other words, the underlying assumption is that a Divine Book and a human book would be the same in kind, and would differ only in quality, or perfection. The assumption would, no doubt, be readily enough avowed, if the question were raised; and, in fact, it has, in some instances, been quite openly stated, and put forth as a commonsense and indisputable position, which, of course, every one accepts.1
1 For an instance in point, see Chap. i, p. 9, above. 43
One writer, for example, after stating that, "in practical Christian experience and edification, some things in the Bible are quietly left at one side"--i.e. are tacitly recognized as not conducive to edification--follows this up with a rather striking illustration: "The Lord Jesus," says the writer in question, "at one time met the disciples when they were hungry, and gave them a piece of broiled fish on the coals.
The "interpretation," here, would appear to be this the Sacred Scripture is a "fish" given to us by God; any book of human composition is a "fish," given to us by the man who writes it. God's "fish" we may confidently rely upon as sound and wholesome as to the eatable parts, but not as differing from man's "fish" in the respect either of having no parts that are uneatable, or as presenting any essential differences in structure: "Should I expect to find it unlike any other fish in structure?" The assumption, in other words--and the point is that it is the universally--accepted assumption on the point--is, as we stated, that a truly Divine Book and an ordinary human book would be the same in kind, or in "structure," and would differ only in quality--that is, in excellence or perfection. We might "expect to find it excellent," but in no way radically and structurally different from a human book.1
1 For another instance in point, see Chap. i, pp. 8-9, above.
We venture to submit that this assumption is completely at variance with the rational necessities of the case; that it is untenable, and that it is the fruitful source of all the difficulties that stand in the way, with many, of accepting the Sacred Scripture as the "Word of God" in any unsophisticated sense of that expression. We urge, on the contrary, that we are entitled, and indeed bound, to expect, in a truly Divine Book, that it shall present some marked peculiarities "in structure," by which it should be radically distinguished from any human book whatsoever.
Is not this the case with every other Divine production? Compare any work of God we please, with any similar work of man--any product of the Divine handiwork with any comparable product of human workmanship. "It is surprising that men in general," it has been well said, "have not yet properly observed that all things made by man, such as works of art--statues, pictures and innumerable other things---which, on the outside, appear beautiful, and are esteemed of great value, are interiorly nothing but clay and mud, and devoid of beauty; it is only the external surface which the eye admires. Whereas those things that grow from seeds"--thus, Divine creations--"begin from an internal, and grow and put on an external. Such things are not only beautiful to the sight, but the more interiorly they are examined, the more beautiful they appear" (Swedenborg's Spiritual Diary, no. 252).
Look, for example, at an artificial flower, the handiwork of man, in comparison with a natural flower, the creation of God. In these days, the making of artificial flowers has reached a marvelous pitch of verisimilitude; so marvelous, in some cases, that, aided by scents, it takes quite a close examination to make one perfectly certain that it is artificial.
How different the result that is presented when a natural, or created, flower is dissected, is known to every student of botany. Take any part of it you please--a single petal, say: the more interiorly, if only at the same time skillfully, it is dissected, the more marvels and beauties of organization, structure and use greet and delight at once the eye and the mind.
The same kind of difference, but on a higher plane and a larger scale, obtains on the comparison of that summit of created works, a man, with the most perfect statue that human art has ever produced.
Break your statue, however; and all its beauty is instantly destroyed. No matter how carefully and intelligently you examine any or all of its fragments, there is no beauty to be discovered. Dissection, by whatsoever means, brings to light nothing but matter--marble, plaster, plasticine, or common or refined clay of any other kind; but matter, crude matter, and nothing else.
What a contrast with this is presented by the least outwardly beautiful human being ever born, when we leave the surface and explore what lies beneath and within! As every student who has worked in the dissecting room is aware, the farther the work of dissection is carried, and the parts it lays bare are examined under the microscope, the more marvelous the beauties of organization that are brought to light: new wonders emerging as the work of dissection and examination advances farther into the interiors of the body.
And this contrast holds, as all are aware, as between all Divine works as compared with human works. No Divine creation in the organic world lacks the characteristics to which we have pointed; and, on the other hand, no human manufacture possesses them.
In the case of man, the contrast does not end even here. Beyond the outer form and the inner forms to which consideration has so far been directed, there lies, within him, a mind or spirit, in virtue of which he is able to enter upon the knowledge and rational comprehension of the whole material universe, to build up human societies, to invent machines, to harness and control the forces of nature to serve his purposes, good and evil, even to mould nature itself to some extent to his own will. While, beyond the human mind or spirit, there is, most wonderful of all, the immortal soul, by virtue of which man is capable of knowing, apprehending and loving God, and of being conjoined with Him by faith and love to eternity.
Such radical and fundamental contrasts obtain, as stated, between all Divine works and all human works. There are no exceptions to the rule. And it is impossible, on reflection, to avoid the conclusion that the differences are derived to the "work," in each case, from the "worker," and are THE MARKS of Divine and human workmanship respectively.
And when God undertakes to produce that particular "work," in the sphere of mind, that we call a "book," shall this fundamental distinction, present and insistent everywhere else, suddenly cease to obtain? The whole analogy of the case forbids us so to think. On the contrary, we are led to expect to find as great a difference, and of a similar kind, between a Divine composition and a human, as we find everywhere else between Divine and human productions.
Where, next, does this line of thought bring us as regards the precise nature of the difference that should be found in a Divine as compared with a human composition? The essential mark of all products of human workmanship is that, it is limited to the outside, a matter exclusively of external form. Its whole significance lies on the surface. On the other hand, in a Divine work, the surface, or outward form, is only as it were an introduction, or portico, to forms and relations, far more wonderful in character, that exist within.
Now the essence of a book, or composition, is its meaning. Unless it has or contains a meaning it is not a book at all, in any real sense. It is, therefore, in respect to meaning, that any two books, and consequently a Divine and a human book, will agree and differ, and thus that the characteristic differences between Divine and human "literature" (shall we say?) must be looked for.
A human composition, or book, contains its meaning and significance on the surface, or in the literal sense of its words and sentences, according to the grammatical construction proper to the language in which it is written; and a knowledge of the words, grammar and usages of that language is all-granted, of course, the requisite degree of native or trained intelligence-that will be required to enable the reader to arrive at the meaning of the writer, or to understand what the book is intended to convey.
Not so, however-going by the analogy of all other spheres-in the case of a Divine composition. That, it is true, will have a surface or literal meaning, attainable in the same way and by the same means as the literal meaning of an ordinary human composition-that is, by external examination; but in the case of a Divine book, that will not be the whole meaning.
To continue the analogy. A book produced by God may (or may not) be more perfect--that is accurate in matter and beautiful in literary form--superficially, or in its literal sense, than one produced by man--man, as we have noted, can make some things which are on the surface more beautiful than any answering thing to be found in nature; but it will have none of those inner beauties and marvels, which an interior examination of even the repulsive things of nature invariably brings to light. When you have mastered its literal meaning, you have mastered all.
When you have mastered the literal meaning of a Divine book, on the contrary--such is the teaching of the analogy--you will be only at the outskirts, or on the threshold: its essential meaning, its deeper beauties and teachings--the real evidence of its Divine origin, because resulting from it--will not be seen; because all this, though assuredly present, lies within, and can only be reached by means other than those which suffice for arriving at its literal meaning.
The characteristics of Divine productions as compared with human, in other spheres, therefore, if we heed the universality and nature of the differences between them, lead us to expect, and require us to look for, marked peculiarities "in structure" in any truly Divine composition, radically distinguishing it from ordinary human compositions. In other words, the difference between them will be a difference in hind, and not merely in quality, excellence or perfection. It follows, therefore, that the practically universally accepted postulate to the contrary, is a profound mistake, and the fruitful source of innumerable and mischievous misconceptions, as well as of the inability experienced by many thousands of devout and reflecting men and women to see any evidence of Divinity in the Sacred Scriptures.
It will be seen in the next chapter that our Lord expressly taught the same thing concerning our Scriptures, as we have here concluded respecting any composition that is of actual Divine Authorship; a fact which we are plainly entitled to claim as confirmation from His mouth of the principle it has been the aim of the present chapter to establish.
4.Do our Scriptures possess this Characteristic Feature of Divine Authorship?
THE question with which we are now face to face, is not, simply, Do our Scriptures contain an inner meaning, spiritual in quality, here and there? Nor yet, Are they, in partsor even, throughoutcapable of being turned to spiritual account? The real question is, Are they, by their very nature, of such a character as to yield, in every part, as their true meaning, an inner, spiritual sense, which is on a higher plane, and of greater edification, than anything to be found on their surface, or in their literal meaning?
Happily, testimonies to the point abound; but there is one testimony, standing out beyond all others, which has the advantage of being at once absolutely comprehensive in scope and explicit in character, and, moreover, directly to the point. With this one we begin. It is the familiar, but apparently little understood, dictum of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, concerning His words: The words that I speak unto you, THEY ARE SPIRIT, and they are life (John vi. 63). He had just before said, as recorded in the first half of the same verse, The flesh profiteth nothing; it is THE SPIRIT that giveth life."
In claiming--as we do--this pronouncement as ascribing to the Scriptures the same character as the argument of our previous chapter ascribes to any Divine composition, in virtue of its being such, we fully recognize that the immediate reference is to the words of Jesus Himself.
We have, then, as stated, in this declaration of the Lord, an endorsement of the conclusions reached in the previous chapter as to the necessary nature of any Book having God for its Author, which no one who "believes on the Lord Jesus Christ" can desire to gainsay.
A closer investigation of this dictum in the light of the circumstances in which it was given, will make its exact force even clearer, and more definite, unmistakable and instructive, than it is when viewed apart from its context.
The disciples and the Jews, when the Lord had spoken of His flesh and blood, and of men eating and drinking them, had evidently understood Him to mean the literal "flesh" of His material body, visible to their bodily eyes and extant to their bodily senses, and the literal material "blood" that coursed through the arteries and veins of that body, and by "eating," literal eating, and by "drinking," literal drinking.
Other, and quite independent, testimonies that this is the actual nature of the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments, exist in great abundance--an abundance too great, by far, to be adduced in full here. One group of these testimonies speaks of various statements in both Old and New Testaments as "parables"; a form of composition in which, as is well known, the things actually named are not meant, but they stand for, or "represent," other things which are not mentioned, but are signified, or meant, by those that are. This term "parable," therefore, covers substantially the same ground as the Lord's saying about His words just considered. An example of this group of testimonies is contained in the introductory sentence of the 78th Psalm: "Give ear, O my people, to my law, incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a PARABLE: I will utter dark sayings of old; which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us" (vv. 1-3).
Moreover, in addition to the Lord's explicit teaching considered above: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life," we have the express assurance that all His utterances were "parable." There is, for example, the well-known statement "Without a parable spake He not unto them [i. e. the people]; and, when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples" (Mark iv. 34).
1 The text, in both A. V. and R.V. has "proverbs," but each gives the marginal reading, "or, parables." And, as the Greek word is the same as is employed in the case of the "parable" of the Good Shepherd (see John x. 6), there can be no question that the word "parable" gives the true idea-which "proverbs" does not--and we have accordingly adopted that reading in quoting the passage.
It is instructive to glance at this address, thus stated by, the Lord to be "parable." Most assuredly, there is nothing in the outward form of what He had been saying to suggest the idea that it is "parable"--consisting, as it does, of the teachings about "the Father" and the "Holy Spirit," and, incidentally, the Lord Himself in relation to both--and, most certainly, Christendom at large has never regarded them as "parable," and does not so regard them to this day.
Another class of passages to the same purport, that is, passages showing that the Scriptures are of a "parabolic" character throughout, consists of those numerous New Testament statements that events related therein are "fulfillments" of some Old Testament Scriptures. In scarcely any instance can this be made to appear, without interpreting the Old Testament Scripture immediately in question parabolically. But, let us glance at some of them, and see for ourselves.
Take, first, a statement that occurs in Matthew, in reference to the Lord's practice, which has just been engaging our attention, of speaking in parables "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them: THAT IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables," etc. (Matt. xiii. 34, 35). The "prophecy" here in question, is, it will be noted, the one standing at the beginning of Psalm lxxviii., and considered at pp. 57-8, above. Read in its place in the Psalm, it is perfectly plain that the statement in question is spoken by the Psalmist in reference to himself. Yet it is declared in Matthew that it was "fulfilled" in, THE LORD'S practice of speaking "in parables"--a thing that can only be true if it was spoken of the Lord; which, again, can only have been the case in the event of the Psalmist standing for, or representing the Lord, and being thus, for the purpose of that Scripture, a parabolic figure, and that "Scripture" itself, in the Psalm (and not merely those which it introduces) a "parable"!
So in other cases. During the Last Supper, Jesus speaks of the fact that Judas, the traitor, received at His hands a piece of bread steeped in wine and went immediately out to perpetrate the betrayal of His Master, as so happening "that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me" (John xiii. 18, 26-27). This "Scripture" occurs in Psalm xli. 9: "Yea, mine oven familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me"--and, as it there stands, is a lament of David at the treachery towards himself of his own trusted friend! It is, again, only by David there standing for, or representing, Jesus, and so by this "Scripture" also being parabolic, that it could possibly be "fulfilled" in anything that happened to Jesus.
The flight into Egypt, again, in Jesus' infancy, is stated to have taken place, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet,1 saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (Matt. ii. 15). The "prophecy" here declared to be "fulfilled" in the event related, is written in Hosea xi. i; where it reads: "When ISRAEL was a child, I loved him; and I called My son out of Egypt;" which can apply to THE LORD only in the event of the nation of Israel, in this place, at least, "parabolically" referring to Him, and of utterances literally historical becoming prophetic--on occasion, at all events--when understood as "parable."
1 See R. V.
The case is quite the same with the disposal of Jesus' seamless coat at the Crucifixion, by lot, instead of by partition; which is said to have happened "that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots" (John xix. 23-24; see for the Scripture thus "fulfilled" Psalm xxii. 18, where, again, the reference in the Letter is to David; who, once more, is a "parable" of Jesus, and in some other instances.
In the "fulfillment" of the Scripture, "A bone of him shall not be broken," in the circumstance that, after the Crucifixion, when soldiers "came to Jesus and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs" (John xix. 33, 36), we have a testimony of another and a peculiarly illuminating sort; for the reference of the "fulfilled" Scripture is not to a historical personage, as in the other cases, but to the Passover lamb. The Scripture in question is "Thou shalt not carry aught of the flesh thereof out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof" (Exod. xii. 46; see also Num. ix. 12). This instance, consequently, exhibits the Passover lamb, in the Jewish ceremonial law, as a "parable" representative of the Lord Jesus Christ: a relation clearly recognized by the Apostle Paul, where he says, Christ OUR PASSOVER is SACRIFICED for us; therefore, let us keep the feast," etc. (1 Cor. v. 7): it was the Passover lamb that was "sacrificed," and a bone of which was not to be broken.
Such instances might be multiplied almost indefinitely; but enough have been adduced to satisfy any intelligent and candid mind that the testimony of the Scriptures to their own parabolic character in all parts--Old Testament and New, history, prophecy, Law and Psalm--is at once unmistakable and overwhelming.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, moreover--by whomsoever written--is conclusive evidence that this parabolic or representative character of the Old "Testament Scriptures was very distinctly recognized, and those Scriptures interpreted according to it, in the infancy of the Christian Church--which was its best period. In that Epistle, for example, it is expressly stated that, by the law that only the High Priest might go into the "holy of holies," and he only once a year on a specified occasion, "the Holy Ghost SIGNIFIED" something relating to the Lord Jesus, and also that the law in question "was a FIGURE for the time then present" (Heb. ix. 8-9); that "the law," as a whole, was "a SHADOW of good things to come" (x. 1); that the carcasses and offal of the animals offered in sacrifice under "the law" pointed to, represented and signified the body of Jesus that was crucified (xiii. 11-13), and that the "high priest" similarly pointed to and represented the Lord (iv. 14); while Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, explicitly declares that the historical matter of Abraham's two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a freewoman, etc., is "an allegory" (Gal. iv. 22-24);--things which could only be said on the hypothesis of the Old Testament "Scriptures," properly so called, being of a parabolic or representative character.
We arrive, therefore, irresistibly at the conclusion that our Scriptures--they themselves being witness, and certain things in certain Epistles witnessing to the same effect--do possess the characteristic mark of the Divine Authorship to which they lay claim--as being Divine "parable" throughout, or--what is the same thing-containing, over and above whatever of literal truth and meaning, historical or doctrinal, they may be susceptible of, an inner, spiritual sense which is their "spirit and life," and which is not only higher and more profitable than the "letter," but is the real meaning itself, intended. That this is the case with true "parable" no one will or can gainsay; and that it must be the case with a composition that is "spirit" as distinguished from "letter"--"the words that I speak unto you, they ARE spirit"--is still less open to doubt.
It is imperative to note, however, that it is not for all the Books brought together and bound up in our ordinary English Bibles that this "parabolic" character is claimed, but only for those that are of veritable Divine Authorship; the very words of which, that is to say, are God's words, and not, really and ultimately, the words of the human writer, whatever may have been the appearance on that matter to him.
The full discussion of this subject--which is that of the "canon"--belongs to a later stage of our investigation, and is gone into, in detail and at large, in the chapter on that subject with which the present work closes, and for which the very careful and earnest attention of the reader, at the proper time, is invoked. It must suffice, meanwhile, for us to specify those books of the "Bible" for which Divine Authorship, strictly defined, and a consequent parabolic character, are NOT claimed. These are: in the Old Testament--Ruth, 1 Chronicles to job, Proverbs to the Song of Solomon; and in the New--the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles.
THE NEW STANDPOINT
CHAPTER 5 THE POINT OF VIEW FUNDAMENTALLY ALTERED
CHAPTER 6. THE STATUS OF THE "PARABOLIC" LITERAL SENSE AS HISTORY AND AS DOCTRINE
CHAPTER 7. THE "LETTER," OR OUTER FORM
CHAPTER 8. THE "SPIRIT," OR INNER MEANING
THE NEW STANDPOINT
5.The Point of View fundamentally altered.
IT is at once evident that conclusions so vital and fundamental as those at which we have arrived, must be correspondingly far-reaching, and must bring about a complete revolution in our way of thinking about the Scriptures and their contents. These conclusions involve, in fact, an entire change of standpoint; a change so great and radical that it is perhaps impossible to realize, at first, all that it entails. It behooves us therefore, to pause for a brief space to gather up, and endeavor to grasp, the nature, extent and significance of the change.
The whole of the change lies in the fact that all the God-inspired Books of our Bible, everything that is entitled to be regarded as "the Word of God," not only has a spiritual sense within, and additional to, the "letter," but has its proper meaning, its real message, in the spiritual sense, and not, primarily at all events, in the literal. This has been indicated, in passing, several times already: it seems desirable to look it, now, directly in the face.
It is, to begin with, the whole force and significance of the Lord's own canon-covering, as we have seen, till God-inspired Scripture as such: "It is THE SPIRIT that quickeneth. THE FLESH PROFITETH NOTHING: the words that I speak unto you, THEY ARE SPIRIT." This may be paraphrased: "It is in the spiritual sense that the profit, and thus the real meaning of My words is to be found, and not in their literal sense; for My words are spirit;" and the faithfulness of the paraphrase, as expressing the meaning of the original utterance, will not be challenged.
It is, likewise, the whole significance of the term "parable"--which, as we have also seen, the Scriptures, in various ways, demonstrate to be the character of the Divine Word; for it is of the very nature of a "parable"an earthly story with a heavenly meaning," to adopt the popular, but substantially accurate definition--that its teaching, and thus its real import, does not lie in its "earthly story" but in its "heavenly meaning," or inner sense. So unmistakably true is this, that no person in his senses would, for a moment, think of looking for the real meaning of any composition he knew to be a "parable" in its outer form: he would know that, because it is a "parable," he must look to an inner sense for the meaning of it, and that, if he cannot fathom that inner sense, he cannot know what the "parable" means.
This, then, is where we stand in relation to the Divine Word, in the light of its own doctrine that it is, in its intrinsic nature, and consequently, throughout its whole length and breadth, Divine "parable": "It is THE SPIRIT that quickeneth: the flesh profiting nothing"--relatively speaking, of course, but in many specific instances, absolutely. This, in a word, is the new standpoint.
What, now, from this standpoint, becomes of the ordinary objections to the Divine Authorship of the Scriptures? Of these we took frank cognizance in our opening review of the present Biblical situation. They are all urged, and are all dealt with, as was then pointed out, from the old standpoint, the standpoint, namely, that, whatever the "spiritual lessons" that can be "drawn" from them, and whatever the spiritual, application, of which in ingenious hands they may be susceptible, their real meaning lies--in direct contradiction to the Lord Jesus Christ--in their literal sense and nowhere else, and that the words employed and the statements made were intended in the. literal sense and in no other; so that the "literal" sense is the real sense of the Scriptures.
What is the effect of these objections from the new standpoint? Answer: They fall, pointless, to the ground! We see that this is so, as soon as we recall what is the character of the objections. The objections in question consist in the existence of Scientific, Historical, Philosophical, and Theological inaccuracies, and moral defects, in the statements of the Scriptures literally construed. But the statements of Scripture are "parable"--history, quasi-history, allegory, biography, philosophy, morals, theology, quasi-scientific statement and allusion--all is "parable." And inaccuracies and defects of the kind we have in view, in the "outer form" of a production that declares itself to be "parable"--as our Scriptures do-cannot affect its value, as "parable," in the smallest degree. The only possible criticism that can lie against a "parable" is in relation to its parabolic adequacy--that is to say, its suitability for conveying the truths, or inner meaning, the "parable" is intended to teach. It is important, also, to note that before such criticism-can be advanced, the inner meaning must be known, and the true principles of parabolic composition of the kind involved, understood.
To bring this point home to our minds, let us suppose that we have before us a "parable" that represents a horse, or other animal, as speaking, and even as taking intelligent part in a conversation.1 No one in his senses, knowing it to be a "parable"--as we, once more, know the Divine Word to be--would dream of inferring, from this, that the parabolist diet not know that animals had not the gift of speech, and that he, could not, therefore, be a wise and learned man, or a competent or trustworthy teacher. Nor would any one think of entertaining any misgiving as to the value of the "parable," because of this feature of its "outer form," or characterize the representation as an "error," or, indeed, advance any criticism whatever against it, on this: ground. Should any person be so foolish as to do any one of these things, seriously, he would certainly be set down by intelligent people as destitute of rationality; and no one would pay any attention to him.
1 Num. xxii. 28-31. Nevertheless, there is no reason for doubting, in this case, that there was a voice, which appeared to issue from the mouth of the ass, and which spoke the things here set down. See also Chap. 16, below.
The case would be the same, exactly, with a parable that spoke of jewels as growing on trees; of the sun as rising in the west and setting in the east; of there being light in the world before the sun was created;2 that ascribed to one person what it had previously ascribed to another; that said there were two of a certain kind of object, the number of which had before been given as "seven,"1 or vice versa;
2 Gen. i. 3 and 14-18.
1 Gen. vi. 19; cfr. Vii. 2.
2 Matt. i. 1-17; cfr. Luke iii. 23-38.
3 Gen. xxii. 1-2; cfr. James i. 13.
Any person of ordinary intelligence who knew that the composition containing these features was a "parable," would discern in that fact an immediate explanation in general, of their presence, and would know that he would find in its "inner meaning," when obtained, the complete explanation in detail. Deviations, great or small, from scientific, philosophical, moral or theological truth, or historical or other natural fact, in a word, would tell him that the "inner meaning" of the particular context in question, could not be conveyed by the real truth, or the actual facts; and that, as the composition was not really, in intention--even though it might be in form--a scientific, or historical, or moral, or philosophical, or even a theological treatise, but a "parable," it was absolutely imperative that the actual facts, or real truths, should be modified in such a way and to such an extent--neither more, nor less-as might be necessary to make them serviceable to, the purposes of the "parable"; it being, obviously, of the nature of "parable" that the outer form must always bend to the requirements of the "inner meaning."
Such peculiarities, indeed all peculiarities of whatsoever kind in the "letter" of the Sacred Scriptures--they, once again, being Divine "parable" throughout--will, therefore, form no sort of evidence, to one who, on the abundant rational and Scriptural grounds we have had before us, has adopted "the new standpoint," against their Divine Authorship. They will, on the other hand, constitute valuable notifications to him of some fine or important distinction, or some fresh point, in relation to the matter treated of in the "inner sense," which bespeaks his yet closer attention. Every peculiarity in the "letter" is an indicator, to the intelligent student, of "inner sense," of the presence within of some point of spiritual truth of more than ordinary importance.
6.--The status of the "parabolic" Literal Sense as History and as Doctrine.
IT is manifest, then, that the objections ordinarily urged with success against the Divine Authorship of the Scriptures from the old point of view, are deprived of all validity, force, and even point, from the new; and that, if these are the only objections against it that can be urged, their Divine Authorship will never be seriously imperiled. It is not even necessary to deal with them separately; there invalidity is involved in their very nature, as having no possible application against a composition of the kind the Scriptures have been seen to be-a Divine "parable."
But, while this is undeniably the case, a little reflection will be sufficient to show that the new standpoint has its own difficulties--not, it is true, difficulties in the way of accepting the Divine Authorship of the Scriptures, but difficulties all the same. The difficulties referred to involve the reliability and value of the Letter of Scripture, from the new standpoint, as (a) History, and (b) Religion or Doctrine. It may easily appear that, if the Divine Word is in reality "parable," throughout, the real meaning of which must necessarily lie in its inner sense, its historical and even its religious value, in the Letter, must be at best problematical.
These are grave questions; and they must be answered--particularly so, in view of the fact that, hitherto, the inner sense, the real meaning, has been, and as regards the mass of mankind still is, unknown.
In approaching their answer, let us remind ourselves of the fact, repeatedly asserted and implied above, that the circumstance of the composition being parabolic in character does not necessitate-the fictional character of its outer form. There are varieties in parable. There is what may be called "pure" parable and allegory, the outer form of which does not assume to be dealing with matters of natural or historical fact: with this variety, no one would think of looking to the outer form for any teaching at all. He would know that he must turn from the outer form to the inner meaning, for whatever the parable has to teach. This applies to the avowed parables of Jesus in general--but with certain exceptions to be indicated presently.
Then there is what may be called the "mixed" (historical) parable, whose outer form is obviously partly historical and partly unhistorical, but whose historical and unhistorical elements are so intermingled as to constitute a disavowal of any genuinely historical intention for the outer form. No one would dream of building on the outer form in the "mixed" parable for historical purposes: he would know that he must obtain his history from other sources, in order to know what, in the parable before him, is historical and what is not.
Again, there is the "doctrinal" parable, as we may designate it, the outer form of which embraces matters of religious doctrine, which, of course, are not the real meaning of the "parable," because they are of its "outer form." The principle of dealing with such a parable would seem to be to regard the doctrine of the outer form as true, and thus as authoritative, unless it is known, from other sources, to be not true doctrine. An instance of this kind of parable is that of the Rich Man and Lazarus. This, dealing as it does, even in the outer form, with conditions of the life after death, necessarily involves the doctrine on that subject. Now, it is reasonable to suppose that, in making statements on points of religious doctrine, even in a "parable," the Lord would employ genuinely true statements, unless the exigencies of the inner meaning, or some other constraining consideration, should necessitate a deviation, less or greater, from genuine truth.
These conclusions are, it will be at once admitted, equally applicable to all parts of the Divine parable which the Word of God throughout is, which in the outer form, have a doctrinal character; and in them we learn the exact kind and degree of value and confidence to be attached to the doctrinal portions of the "Letter" in general.
In the case of the "historical" parable-by which, here, is meant any historical narrative which is announced in the immediate context as a "parable"--the typical instance of which is the 78th Psalm--the position is somewhat similar; substituting, however, "history," where, in the former case, we have "doctrine." But there is this further difference whereas worldly history can never, in the nature of the case, be the proper subject-matter of Divine Revelation, "religion" or "doctrine" both can be and is. The true doctrine, therefore, that is scattered over the pages of the "Letter" of the Divine Word is revealed by God and would not have come to the knowledge of man but for its being so revealed: true history, on the contrary, is not, properly regarded, "revealed" at all, inasmuch as a knowledge of that could have come, and does come, to men by means of the exercise of their natural powers and faculties, without being revealed. Hence, all true doctrine in the Word, whether of the Letter or of the Spirit, is Revelation the true history, in the Letter of the Word, is not Revelation, but simply the vehicle of Revelation-the Revelation itself being the inner or spiritual sense of the history.
These positions apply to those parts of the Word which avow themselves as "parable" in their immediate context; and we have no misgivings as to their finding general acceptance with open and intelligent minds, as the necessary common sense and reason of the matter. If not quite self-evident, they appear to us so nearly so that they may be left to win their own way to acceptance--as regards, that is to say, those parts of the Word to which they have been, so far, applied.
They are equally valid, however, for all parts of the Word subsequent to the introductory first eleven chapters of Genesis; which, as we have seen earlier,1 have a special character of their own, which differentiates them from the remainder of the Sacred Volume. Actual history, as we then saw, begins with the call of Abram; and, from that point on, the Word, in its outer form, in both Old and New Testaments, consists' of history, biography, prophecy, psalm and (in the New Testament especially) doctrine. The Old Testament history is that of the Israelitish people the New Testament, that of our Lord's life on earth. The, main stream of Old Testament "history" is comprised principally in what are called "the historical Books": Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, the two Books of Samuel, and the two Books of the Kings; and the New Testament "history" in the four Gospels: Old Testament "prophecy" in "the prophetical Books" Isaiah to Malachi; the New Testament "prophetic" Book being that of Revelation.
1 Chap. 2, p. 38, above.
The question immediately before us, is as to the degree of confidence that can be placed in the historical portions of both Old and New Testaments. Their substantial historicity is felt to carry us hardly far enough, as it leaves it an open question whether this, that or the' other particular is historically true, or not.
The first consideration that offers itself, is, that the question is certainly not of absolutely first-rate consequence. By this is meant that it has little, if any, direct bearing upon spiritual well-being. It is of no consequence to our souls' good, whether, for example, the story 'of the relations among Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac is in strict accord with the actual facts of the case in every detail, so long as we get the spiritual truths which the inner sense of the story teaches, and of which the story itself is the vehicle. Whether the facts were or were not exactly as stated, whatever is serviceable to our spiritual life and eternal interests is contained solely in those spiritual truths, and not at all in the literal narrative.
The answer is furnished in the Scriptures themselves. Every one in any measure acquainted with them, knows that they consistently and persistently represent the Israelitish people and their fortunes, throughout their national career, as under not merely the general Providential care, but as under the direct and constant guidance and control, in even what look like trifling details, of Jehovah. So unmistakably is this the case, that the government depicted as obtaining amongst them, alike under Moses, Joshua, the;Judges and even the Kings, is, by universal consent, described as a "theocracy"--government by God.
It was amongst the people who stood in this unique relation to God, that God gave that portion of His Word, parabolically constructed, which had for its outer form the story of that people's career and relations with Himself.
The position, therefore, is this: the doings and career of that people were under the direct control, shaping and government, even in matters of detail, of God: the God who, thus shaped their national course and development, gave among them- Divine Scriptures, parabolic in structure, the "outer form" of which was to consist of the story of that people, while its true significance--the real "Revelation"--was to reside in its inner meaning. Does it not, almost of necessity, follow, that their minutely guided national life would be thus minutely guided with a constant reference to the use that national life was to serve in the Divine Revelation which was' to be, and actually was all the while being, given among them? That this must have been so, seems to us to flow out of all the circumstances so naturally and irresistibly that it must commend itself to acceptance, if not immediately on being pointed out, at least on mature, rational and candid consideration.
This being the case, it is perfectly clear that the parabolic character of the Scriptures in no way militates against their trustworthiness as history, even in matters of detail; for the same God that gave these parabolic Scriptures was concurrently and all the while guiding, controlling and shaping the life of the people whose story was to constitute the outer form of the "parable."
It is conceivable, however, that:though they all happened, they may not all have happened exactly as related. An example will illustrate the point here intended. It is related in the Book of Joshua that, on the occasion of the battle between Israel and the five kings of the Amorites who besieged Gibeon, "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hasted not to go down about a whole day" (x. 13). Our principle involves that the circumstance recorded in these words actually happened--NOT NECESSARILY, however, exactly as related, that is, by any change in the customary movements of the sun, moon and earth, such as would produce the phenomenon witnessed; for "if this miracle had taken place altogether in this manner, it would have inverted the whole order of nature, which is not the case with the rest of the miracles in the Word. Nevertheless, that there was a light given from heaven, that looked to the Israelites like that of the sun upon Gibeon and t that of the moon in the valley of Ajalon, is not to be doubted."1
1 Swedenborg: Apocalypse Explained, n. 401.
In the New Testament, the history is not that of the Israelitish people, or even of the Jews of the day, though the latter figure largely in it; it is the history of the Lord' and Savior Jesus Christ, or the visible humanity in which the One Eternal God--"the Everlasting Father" (Isa. ix. 6)--came into the world for the salvation of men. Not, evidently, a complete history, but rather a general view of the most important periods of the Life treated of, in which certain particulars and aspects of commanding moment are given special prominence. Unlike the Old Testament histories, this is of intrinsic importance and of spiritual significance and interest; and many of the historical facts are, in the nature of the case, at the same time spiritual doctrines and revealed truths. Such is the case, conspicuously, with the historical fact of what is called the Virgin Birth."
But, since the authenticity of the Old Testament histories is guaranteed to us by the direct Divine government of the Israelitish people; much more, it should seem, must the authenticity of the Gospel story be guaranteed by the fact that the Life whose story is recorded is that of God Himself on earth as Man. All that was done and said in that humanity which was "God manifest in the flesh," was said and done--not, strictly, "by" it as agent, but in and by means of it as instrument: "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works" (John xiv. 10). The real doer b was the "Father," namely, GOD, that dwelt in the humanity as its soul. The case was just as with the soul and body in man.
1 See Swedenborg's Apocalypse Explained, n. 405.
The Lord's life itself in the flesh, being, then, already a "parable" of His life in the Spirit--the Spirit, namely, of His assumed humanity--because inwardly Divine, the story of it would not need to be modified by any departure from the actual historical facts, in order to serve the parabolic purposes of the Divine Word. The historical aspect of the Gospel story, as such, therefore, may be relied upon not less than that of the Old Testament histories, but distinctly more.
An apparent exception, it is true, must be made in the case of the contradictory genealogies of Jesus. This is only apparently an exception, however; for the genealogies are not, clearly, any part of His life and doings, and are, consequently, not affected by the considerations just passed in review. They involve only, on any assumption, His ancestry--a distinct thing altogether from His life. Strictly, they do not involve His actual ancestry: they do not even profess to do so; for, in immediate connection with each of them, the point is expressly brought out that Jesus was not the son of Joseph; and the ancestry is avowedly Josephs--not Mary's, whose son it is stated that He was.
But this being the only genealogy possibly assignable to Jesus in the circumstances so perspicuously related of His real parentage in connection with each of them, had only one genealogical table been given, or had two agreeing tables been set before us, it would have been open to us to accept it (or them) as historical-recognizing all the while, however, as we are bound to do, that, even so, it (or they) could have no actual bearing upon the ancestry of Jesus. The interest of the genealogy would, then, lie solely in the relation existing between Joseph--whose true ancestry it would, in that case, have been--and Jesus, through Joseph's being the husband of Mary, whose son, not by Joseph but by "the Power of the Highest" (Luke i. 35), Jesus was.
But there is not only one table. Nor do the two tables that are given agree with one another. Nor, again, do they differ in such a way that a reconciliation of their differences is even conceivably possible.
The question has frequently been asked, about these genealogies, by those who do not believe the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, If Jesus was not the son of Joseph, why, in the name of common sense, should Joseph's genealogy be associated with Him at all? This question has been answered (in part, at all events) above. The question may now be asked, Since, from these genealogies, it cannot be known what even Joseph's real--and Jesus's "legal"--ancestry was, what conceivable reason can be assigned for their inclusion in the Word of God? If either is historically true, we cannot know which what we do know is that one, at any rate, is historically untrue: Why should one historically untrue genealogy have been given at all? If both are historically untrue, as seems probable, why, more than ever, should two untrue genealogies have been given? And what, in such a situation,, becomes of the notion that we have here the Word of God?
From the customary standpoint there can be no denying that these questions are unanswerable. But, from the new standpoint, the standpoint of the Divine Word itself, that it is "parable" throughout, how different is the situation! From that, we know that, even if both genealogies were true, their real significance, as inspired Scripture, would lie, not in the genealogies themselves but in the inner sense.
1 For the Spiritual Sense in this case, given in the course of an extended discussion of the whole question, the reader may consult the present author's essay on "The Two Genealogies of Jesus Christ" in his work The Star in the East and Other Studies in Doctrine and Spiritual interpretation, obtainable from the publishers hereof.
To sum up. While, from the new standpoint, the real and true Divinity of the Word is not imperiled, or even affected, by the presence of historical or even doctrinal inaccuracies in the Letter, nevertheless, from the beginning of actual history in the call of Abram, onwards, the circumstances relating to its histories in both Old and New Testaments justify us in regarding them with complete confidence, except where very clear intimations pointing to non-historicity appear; and that the doctrinal statements of the Letter; even though they also have an "inner meaning" by which they are even more exaltedly true and spiritual, are to be accepted as true, and in that case as DIVINELY AUTHORITATIVE, unless it is known, on some other ground, that any specific statement of a doctrinal character is not genuine truth, in the exact form in which it is there set forth.
7.--The "Letter," or Outer Form.
NOW that it has become evident that the parabolic character of the Divine Word does not preclude the giving of true doctrine in its "outer form" as well as in its "inner meaning," we are brought face to face with a new set of problems, different in kind from any that have yet confronted us.
For example: there is no sign that the writers of the Old Testament Scriptures understood what they wrote in any other sense than the merely literal, or so much as had the least idea--save in the single instance of the 78th Psalm--that it had any other sense; and, in the case of this one exception, there is no appearance that the inner meaning of the contents of the Psalm was known to its writer, but simply that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to commence the Psalm in that particular way. This seems as far as one can safely go.
In these circumstances, questions such as the following arise:
(1) Of what use is a revelation whose real meaning lies in its "inner sense," unless the inner sense is given with it?
1 See Heb. x. 4; also ver. i of that chapter.
The gravity of these questions, and equally their inevitableness, there can be no disputing, nor yet the imperative necessity that they be answered. Let us, then, face them, forthwith--one by one, in the order above set forth.
(i) Of what use is a "Revelation," the real meaning of which lies in its inner sense, unless that inner sense is given with it---as was, clearly, not the case with our Old Testament Scriptures? The answer, in a sentence, is: to educate men in spiritual and Divine things, and, so, to lead them gradually on, to a stage at which they would be able to enter into the profounder truths that constitute the "inner sense."
It is at once and freely admitted that a Revelation of such a character would have been of no use unless the inner sense had been given with it, in the event of no genuine truth of a religious order having been contained anywhere but in its "inner sense." But, from the very beginning of the giving of these Scriptures, such genuine truth, in matters of real moment for the purposes of salvation, had been included as an integral part of its "outer form." The earliest-given installment of the Word was not the first chapter-or any chapter--of Genesis; it was what is called the "Book of the Covenant" (see Exod, xxiv. 7), consisting of the Law of the Decalogue and the immediately succeeding legislation and admonition, and constituting Chapters xx. To xxiii. of the Book of Exodus. According to the record, this portion was not only first given, but it was at once written down (Exod. xxiv. 4); and, so written, was, as
Stated, the first of the long series of Divine communications in the form of law, history, prophecy and psalm which constitute the Old Testament Scriptures.
The effect of this characteristic of the outer form of the Scriptures, upon those to whom they originally came, or to whom they ever have come, has been, and must have been, that, as men have advanced, spiritually, morally and intellectually, they have discerned and assimilated more and more of these genuine religious truths that are there, and have thus been progressively, however slowly, led on to higher and higher levels of understanding and discernment, until, at length, they may reach a standard at which the brighter glories of the inner sense itself, can be grasped, and hence communicated.
(2) But why is not the religion, or doctrine, always genuinely true, and thus valid for all time, instead of being, in many instances, not so? Was (or is) there anything in the fact that the Revelation is parable, that makes it impossible for the outer form to express genuine truth in all parts, as well as in some parts? And, if not impossible, why was this not done?
In reply to this demand, it may be conceded, as a general truth, that there is nothing in the mere parabolic character of the Divine Word, to make it impossible for the religion, or doctrine, of the Letter, to be genuinely true in all cases. This almost follows from the fact that, in so many parts, genuine truth is expressed in the Letter, and that the Word is parabolic in those places, as well as, and as much as, in the others.
Our Lord Himself declared the truth we have just announced, when He said to His disciples, at the close of His earthly ministry, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now" (John xvi. 12). And, in so saying, He was laying down the universal principle that governs, and at all times has governed, Divine Revelation. This principle is that only that can be given, which, men are at some measure capable of appreciating and receiving, at the time of its being given.
It might seem that, in a Divine Book, anything could be given, whether men were able to receive it or not, and that, though they might not be able to receive it when given, they would be able at some future time, and that it could quite well await the time when they should be able.
It may seem, again, that though it might be necessary, at any particular juncture, or stage, of man's spiritual development, to withhold genuine truths, that is not altogether what we are concerned with, but with the putting forth of things that are not genuinely true. That comes, it would appear, dangerously near affirming untruth; and, surely, there could be no necessity for that? Surely, even, in a Divine Revelation, it could not be done? In a Divine Revelation which was not "parable," it could not be done, we admit; but, in a Revelation which is parable, things could be tolerated, for the sake of the inner meaning to be some day given, that could not have been tolerated in any other case.
It is, for example, frequently declared, as noted on a former occasion, that Jehovah "repented" of good and of evil that He purposed and had threatened. To the Jews, no doubt, that way of putting the matter presented no difficulties. To them, that was genuine truth! To us, however, it is an impossibility. We know that God cannot possibly be the subject of such infirmity as a change of mind, or of purpose just because He is God, and therefore absolutely incapable of any infirmity or imperfection whatever.
(1) The effect of the presentation of genuine truth in some places and not in others on the teaching value of the Revelation. It might seem that this effect must be detrimental. So far, however, was this from 'being the case, as regards the people among whom the revelation was in the first instance given, that (as we have, indeed, just seen) its teaching value was enhanced by, and even, to a great extent, due to, that very characteristic. Had it not been present--had those Scriptures, that is to say, not contained many false appearances of truth--the Israelitish people of the time of the Exodus would infallibly have rejected them altogether.
Our point, however, is that, to that people, the admixture of truth and error in the outer form, instead of derogating from the teaching value of the Revelation, actually gave it its teaching value in the first instance, by conserving its credit as a teacher.
And, even in connection with contradictory statements on the same point of truth, one set affirming, for instance--to recall our former example--that God performs specific acts of repentance, and the other that God does not and cannot repent, the statements that He cannot would not arrest attention because their true force would not be perceived. Consequently, the contradiction between the two sets of statements would not appear! Such contradiction only arrests attention, and thus creates difficulty, when men have attained to the genuine truth on the subject; and the difficulty then felt, is, not that of doubt as to which set of statements is the genuine truth, but of bringing into question the trustworthiness of the document that has declared the opposite. It becomes a question, in other words, not as to whether God did "repent" on the alleged occasions: the person in the genuine truth knows that to be impossible; but as to the Divinity of the Book that says He did!
No doubt, there are cases in which the issue is not so simple, in which it is not so easy to determine which of;two, or more, conflicting statements (or sets of statements) are genuinely true and which are not. In such eases, how are men to know which are true--thus, which they are to believe-and which not?
(4) The difficulty presented by the giving, under Divine enactment, of a religion of such a character as that instituted among the Israelites.
We know what that religion was. It consisted, as regards the vast bulk of it, of rites and ceremonies of the most various and minute, and even in some cases trivial,1 character, which, in their own nature, were often possessed of no spiritual quality whatever, and which it is impossible for a rational-mind, at this day, to believe were ever possessed of any spiritual value. These rituals were largely variations on the central idea, of worship by means of sacrifices and offerings. The sacrifices consisted of certain specified animals and birds, killed at, and burned (or roasted) upon, an altar, and other articles of food and drink presented at it. The sacrifices are represented as God's food, or "bread" (Mal. i. 7, 8); gifts were presented, 'animals slain and offered, and their blood shed and sprinkled, and other formalities of a similar nature prescribed "to make atonement for the souls" of the worshippers (Exod. xxx. 15; Lev. xvii. 11; Num. xxviii. 22, 30, and many other places), and for purification from their sins (Num. xix. 9, 17); the scapegoat, to take a concrete instance, "bare away their iniquities to a land not inhabited" (Lev. xvi. 21-22)--objects which the common sense of mankind, today, almost spontaneously recognizes as, truly, the only conceivable objects of a spiritual religion.
What are we to make of the enactment of such a religion by God?--and of the Scriptures that, in the name of God, prescribe the religion in such detail?
We are to begin by recognizing, that, though apparently "prescribed" and "commanded," these things are, in reality, only tolerated and regulated, in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The obvious conclusion from all these testimonies, in a word, is, that, although God accepted and tolerated the formalities--and in some instances almost puerilities-that passed for "religious" observances under the Jewish dispensation, they were not according to His WILL; and that what He really did "require" --but, from that people, as a people, largely in vain--were the truly spiritual virtues, humble though they mostly were, which we, almost spontaneously and universally, recognize as the essential constituents of any real religion.
There is, also, the Lord's own very express teaching, conveyed in the mere substitution of one word for another, when the Pharisees demanded of him whether "it was lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause," and, on Jesus replying to the effect that divorce was not really right in the sight of God at all, but certainly not on the many and frivolous pretexts that sufficed for it among the Jews, they asked Him further, "Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?"
The single utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ just passed in review, is the key to the whole of the Old Testament religion! And, thus, "the law," i. e. the Mosaic system, was merely "a shadow" of "the good things to come," that is, of the true spiritual religion and worship which the Lord Jesus Christ, in the fullness of time, brought to light: "suffered," permitted, tolerated and regulated--not "prescribed"--on account of "the hardness of their hearts," that Is, of their low and perverse spiritual state, for the sake of bringing mankind, by the means of that people, up to those things that God really "requires" of them (Micah vi. 8).
But, in order that we may adequately, or, even approximately, gauge the depth of the necessity for this permission and toleration, on the part of God, of the really unspiritual "religion," so called, that existed among this people, it is necessary that a truer estimate of their actual religious quality as a race, than is by any means general, be obtained.
The most commonly-accepted view on this matter, is that the Israelites of old, from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the tribal patriarchs down to the rank and file of the nation that descended from them, were a peculiarly holy and spiritually-minded people, and chosen' by God as His peculiar people on that account. It is, too, one of the most admired commonplaces of the school of thought that considers itself peculiarly entitled to rank as "advanced;" that, just as the Greeks had a genius for art, and the Romans for law. and government, so the Hebrews, or, to be more exact, the Israelites, had "a genius for religion." Nothing could well be farther from the truth.
As regards the former of these ideas, it is expressly repudiated by the Jewish Scriptures themselves "Speak not thou in thine heart, saying, For my righteousness Jehovah hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations, Jehovah doth drive them out from before thee.
As to their alleged "genius for religion," the Israelitish people at the time that the earlier portions of the Scriptures were given among them, were, in the first place, in a state of spiritual ignorance that may be described as almost absolute, and always remained singularly backward in that respect. The portions here in question were given during the years immediately, following their deliverance from .their many generations of dwelling in the land of Egypt. From the going down of the first of their stock, their great ancestor, Abram, into that country--albeit, only on a visit--to the time of their emergence from it, a nation, under the leadership of Moses, was 430 years: from the time of the descent into it, of the ancestor from whom their nation took its name "Israel," or Jacob--with all his descendants then living, to dwell there, was 215 years. At no time, had they, or their ancestors, stood high in the scale of spiritual knowledge or worship.
The idolatrous antecedents of the Israelites are set forth by Joshua, thus: "Thus saith Jehovah, God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood1 in old time, Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and THEY SERVED OTHER GODS.... Now, therefore, fear Jehovah, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; and put away THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED on the other side of the flood, AND IN EGYPT; and serve ye Jehovah" (Josh. xxiv. 2, 14).
1 i. e. the river Euphrates, on "the other side," of which Mesopotamia, Abram's native place, was situated.
So far, also, were this spiritually ignorant and idolatrously disposed people from displaying any "genius for religion" in the form, at least, of aptness at learning it, that to them, Jehovah was, and for hundreds of years continued to be, but one god out of many; and, though the religion taught them by Jehovah expressly forbade the worship of any other gods, and, under it, faithfulness to this fundamental requirement was rewarded by national prosperity, and unfaithfulness punished by national adversity, so stubborn were they in their idolatrous propensities, that these were never wholly eradicated until the great Exile.
The present problem, however, concerns less the God (or gods) worshipped, than the form of worship itself, in one comprehensive term, the "sacrificial." The sacrificial form, or mode, of worship, archaeological science demonstrates, in general, and even as to nearly all details as well, was common to all the idolatries of the time. Not in Egypt only, but among all the tribes of Canaan, and in all the surrounding Asiatic countries was the "bloody sacrifice," as it is termed, the uniform mode of worship; and in most of them, in at any rate circumstances of special importance, even human sacrifice was resorted to.
But the multitudinous and burdensome ritual of sacrificial and other observance that Jehovah prescribed by the ceremonial law---what of that? That was of the nature, in regard to civil and moral relations, of restriction and limitation-not, properly speaking, of prescription. Such was the case, for example, in the law that "a writing of divorcement" must be given in the case of a wife being put away, "for whatever cause." At the first, the "causes" seem not to have been directly interfered with; but the prescription of "a writing of divorcement," of itself, no doubt, tended at once to prevent the thing being done absolutely without "cause," or (later) without more or less grave cause, and thus-tended, we say--to the ultimate limitation, announced for the first time by our Lord Himself, to the one "cause," of adultery (Matt. xix. 9). It is in such wise and effectual ways that the Divine Providence leads men on by "suffering," for the time, what, on account of the "hardness of men's hearts" cannot without disastrous results be abolished immediately, to the goal It has had in view for them, from the first.
Similarly, with the sacrificial mode of so-called "worship." At the first it had to be "suffered," because of the risk of otherwise destroying the sentiment of worship and of religion in men's minds, altogether but, to-day, so completely has this false notion of the nature of worship been extirpated from, the mind of that portion of the human race that has come under the influence of the Hebrew Scriptures, that not even, one supposes, a Jew of the Jews, could now desire to revert to it!
This principle, and these facts, then, in view of the spiritual condition and circumstances of the Israelitish people when their religion was first instituted, fully explain its peculiar character, and shows how imperative it was, that, notwithstanding its unspiritual quality, it should be "suffered," or permitted, and even provisionally adopted by God, for them. The question of how such a religion, or such forms of worship, ever came to be in existence at all, and to be regulated in exactly the way that it was in the religion of Israel, is a further problem, the full discussion of which must be postponed to a subsequent chapter.1
1 Chap. 1: Correspondences and Representatives, below.
It may be remarked, in closing, that this question of the peculiar character of the worship instituted with this people, puts on exactly the same complexion, in its own sphere, as the question of the inclusion in the Scriptures of doctrine not genuinely true, previously discussed. The underlying principle in the two cases is identical; the only difference is, that the sphere here involved is that of worship: there, it was that of doctrine.
"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father SEEKETH SUCH TO WORSHIP Him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 23, 24).
(5): To the remaining questions, Does not the "parabolic" character of the Old and New Testament Scriptures necessitate the giving, at some future time, of a further revelation to make known its inner sense--inasmuch as that sense was not given with it? or alternatively, is there any other way of arriving at that sense?--to these questions the answer is that there can be no other- way of certainly knowing what the "inner sense" is, than the giving, at some time, of a further revelation-which must be non-parabolic in characterby Him who alone knows what that sense is; and, moreover, the present parabolic revelation itself announces that such a further revelation would be given!
1 See Chap. 9, How the Spiritual Sense is arrived at, pp. 148-151, below.
8.--The "Spirit," or Inner Meaning.
THE first necessity in approaching the direct consideration of the subject to which we have now come, is a clear and correct idea of what the Spiritual Sense of the Word is.
It may be useful to begin by indicating a distinction between "inner sense"--a term frequently used hitherto--and "spiritual sense." The former of these expressions is a general term covering every sense, of whatever degree of interiorness, that may exist beyond, behind, above, or within the "outer" sense, which is the literal. And these senses may have as their subject-matter a variety of themes--Divine, spiritual, or even natural (in the sense of occurring in the natural world), provided they are other than those directly dealt with in the particular literal sense immediately involved. "Literal sense" and "natural sense," therefore, are not, strictly speaking, identical terms: the "natural sense" includes the "literal" sense, but it may include more than the literal--things that transpire in the natural world, though not directly presented--only represented--in the literal" sense.
All the examples adduced in Chapter 4, in proof of the "parabolic" character of our Scriptures, and thus of their possession of an "inner" sense as distinguished from the purely literal, are illustrations of the "inner-natural" sense, and not of the strictly "spiritual." Their distinguishing feature, is, it may be remembered-or, if not, a consultation of them will show-that they all point to the Lord Jesus Christ, and His outward life on earth; and they are parabolic in the respect that the events, circumstances, and sentiments were really, under the Divine inspiration by which they were written, spoken of the Lord-though, historically, also of the personages mentioned in the strictly literal sense; Whom, therefore, those persons parabolically represented. The events, circumstances and sentiments, themselves, were paralleled by exactly such sentiments, events and circumstances, which found a place in the earthly life of our Lord, and are narrated in the literal sense of the Gospels.
In some parts of the Old Testament also, notably where the interpretations" of visions and dreams are given, and also in the case of Jotham's parable "of the trees choosing a king" (Jud. ix. 7-21), the "interpretations," though illustrating the parabolic character of the portion of Scripture they explain, do not exemplify the "spiritual" sense of the Word; and are, themselves, not less "parabolic" than that which they "interpret."
It is obvious to exact thought, that these "interpretations" are not examples of the "spiritual sense" which the Lord postulates in His memorable canon "Tile flesh profiteth nothing; it is THE SPIRIT that quickeneth: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life" (John vi. 63), or which we have seen reason to expect to be included in that future "plain" revelation which the Lord so distinctly foreshadows in John xvi. 25.1
1 See Chap. 9, pp. 148-151.
For one thing, a statement of the really "spiritual sense" of any part of the word must necessarily be couched, not in parabolic language, but in the language of plain speech.
Nor, again, is the true Spiritual sense the "lesson" or "moral" of a parable; nor, therefore, such "lessons," however edifying, as a pious and skilful handling is able to educe from the Scripture histories. Much less is it the kind of Spiritual Sense that certain advocates of the Higher Criticism are demanding shall be applied to, say, the early chapters of Genesis. When examined in their own exemplifications of it, this proves to be simply an application of what we mean when we speak of "the spirit of the law" as against "the letter of the law"--and that is, as every one is aware, simply the purpose, or intention, had in view in drawing it up, as distinguished from any meaning that the actual words employed may be capable of bearing.
1 See Chap. 4, pp. 55-64.
More convincing still, perhaps, on this point, because less abstract, is the proof afforded by the Lord's dictum as to the nature of all inspired Scripture, "The words that I speak unto you, they ARE SPIRIT." To see this, look at that dictum in its entirety: "The flesh profiteth nothing: it is the spirit that quickeneth: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life" (John vi. 63).
In this statement, the Lord likens all His words, and consequently (as before noticed1) His Word itself gas a whole, to a living man, consisting of soul, or "spirit," and body, or "flesh." If we are to learn all that the Lord shadows forth in this comparison, it is manifest that we must give the comparison its full force, in our minds, and well digest all its legitimate implications.
1 See Chap. 4, pp. 53-55.
The thing quite clear, at the outset, is, that the "flesh" (or, body) of which the Lord speaks, is the "Letter" (see 2 Cor. iii. 6), or literal sense; and the "spirit" (or soul) is the Spiritual Sense. And, if this simile is to illustrate the nature of those two senses (one of which is to be disregarded, and the other sought after and prized)--as, of course, must be the case--the distinction, and the relation, between the literal and spiritual senses must be of the same character as those existing between the soul (or "spirit") and the body (or "flesh") of a living man.
Let us look at the way in which the spirit of a man makes its presence and activity manifest in his body The most easily perceived mode of this manifestation, is that of the exhibition of the states and emotions of the mind in the expressions of the face. The face, then, regarded as the index of the mind," is to afford us illustration and instruction concerning the distinction (and the relation) between the literal and spiritual senses of the Divine Word. Take the facial expression called a "scowl." That "indicates" the activity, at .the moment, in the mind, of the sentiment of "hate." The smile that spontaneously illuminates the face on unexpectedly meeting a dear friend; the sudden lighting up of the eye, when listening to a person's explanation of some knotty point in science, philosophy or theology; the instant hardening of the whole aspect, on witnessing, or hearing of, some dastardly action towards a defenseless woman or child-each of these expressions tells its tale, in unmistakable terms, to him who can read the expressions aright, as to the affection, sentiment or emotion that is active in the mind, which is the soul" of that face, at the moment the expression shows itself.
That these two sets of phenomena, the expressions of the face and the sentiments and states of the mind, belong to different planes of being, the bodily and the mental (or spiritual), respectively, is at once perceived and acknowledged. That they belong in different categories is equally sure, from the fact that no one supposes, for a moment, that there is any visual resemblance between the affection of the mind and the expression of the face. It is innately discerned, in fact, that the states of the mind cannot have any pictorial, or visible, appearance, in themselves--and hence any sensible qualities--although they can, and do, produce visible appearances, and sensible qualities, in the body. The same things cannot be predicated, or the same words employed, in the same sense, of the mental states and of facial expressions. That the relation between them, moreover, is that of cause and effect, the mental phenomena causing and producing the bodily, is also clear, and sure. Certain, too, it is, that the bodily phenomena "represent" the mental, or spiritual, phenomena of which they are the expression and the effect; as, also, that they "correspond" to them, and "signify" them.
Now, extend the view. From all that has just been seen, it follows, quite certainly, that the whole body, and all its parts, "corresponds," absolutely, to the whole soul (or "spirit": the terms are interchangeable in the present relation) and all its parts. Otherwise, it were manifestly impossible for the soul to act into the body, and for the body to respond to the action of the soul upon it, with such unfailing precision and accuracy, as must be the case for such effects to be produced. The general, and at the same time most minutely particular, and even singular, responsiveness, of the limbs and muscles of the body, to the behests of the soul, tells the same story of the accurate "correspondence," in all least details even, that must, and does, exist between the body and the soul.
That all this is, is sure. But how can it be, on any other basis than that on which a specific expression of face comes to correspond to, and indicate, a specific state of the mind--to correspond to it so absolutely, that, on the cessation of the particular state of the mind involved, its expression in the face passes away of its own accord, and, cannot be maintained, or restored, except by an artificial "putting on" of the state of mind belonging to that expression of the face-and then only imperfectly?
Also, by the analogy of the Lord's similitude, the "flesh," or body, or Letter of the Divine Word, was in its bringing into existence, produced and formed, in some way or other, by the spiritual sense, or "spirit or soul, of which it is the body, or flesh," This point, however, belongs, manifestly, to the subject of Inspiration, where it will fall to be more fully developed: we merely indicate it here, as bound up in that marvelously pregnant and instructive dictum concerning the Divine Word as being a spiritual man as it were, compact of soul and body, which we are studying. We may take it, therefore, as established that the "spirit," or Spiritual Sense, of the Word must be concerned with spiritual, and not natural, subjects. Everything in it must be spiritual--not natural. The things, and the persons, mentioned in the Letter, must be left out of account when the spiritual sense is being investigated--both the persons and things mentioned, and all other persons and things belonging to the natural plane of life, thought and experience; and, in a word, spiritual things must be understood in the Spiritual Sense, in place of the natural things that are named in the literal sense.
It will be helpful, and even highly instructive, to illustrate these conclusions from the statement called in question by the Jews, that led to the announcement of the illuminating and far-reaching principle we are considering. The statement is:--"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life" (John vi. 534). The point of the Lord's dictum, is, that these words are not to be taken in their literal sense but in their spiritual; and, consequently, that by "flesh" is not to be understood literal ,flesh, nor by "blood" literal blood; nor by "eating" bodily eating, nor by "drinking," bodily drinking; but, in each case, a spiritual thing, and a spiritual act, instead. We are, therefore, to learn what "spiritual" things the Lord meant by "flesh" and "blood," and what "spiritual" acts by "eating" and "drinking." Let us begin with the "blood."
"Blood," and especially the Lord's "blood," is referred to in the Word in a variety of remarkable and very astonishing ways. In the present case, for example, it is put before us as something to drink as, also, in (among many other places) Matt. xxvi. 27-8, in the account of the institution of the Holy Supper:--"He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, DRINK ye all of it; for this is MY BLOOD of the new Covenant1 which is shed for many for the remission of sins."' Here, also, what the Lord calls "the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins," is the wine that we drink in the Lord's Supper!
1 R. V.
Elsewhere, "blood" is spoken of as something to wash clothing in: "What are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? ... These are they which ... have washed their robes, and made them white, in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. vii. 13-14); and the marvel, in this case, is enhanced by the fact that washing their robes in the blood specified, had the effect of making them white--not red, as was to be expected! Again, the Lord's blood" is represented as something in which men can be cleansed from their sins: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood ... be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Rev. i. 5-6). And, still again, as something by which men may "overcome": "The accuser of our brethren is cast down; ... and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. xii. 10-11);--to say nothing of other uses and effects that are, in different places, ascribed to the Lords blood.
Viewing the subject from the standpoint of common sense and simple fact, we know, full well, that the effects mentioned in these Scriptures cannot be produced by natural blood, whether the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the blood of a man, or the blood of an animal or of animals. It may reasonably be anticipated, however, that they will follow from the use of the spiritual thing that the Lord means by His blood. But we can only test this point, by first learning what that spiritual thing is, and then seeing whether that spiritual thing does produce the effects mentioned.
An important clue to what the spiritual thing here meant by the Lord by His blood is, is to be found in considering it as a medium of spiritual cleansing; for what that spiritual thing is that is the medium of spiritual cleansing, the Lord himself makes very evident, where he said to His disciples: now ye are clean through THE WORD THAT I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU (John xv. 3). It is the Word of the Lord that is the medium, and the sole medium, of spiritual cleansing; and that Word is Divine Truth: Thy Word, said the Lord, in the course of His memorable prayer on behalf of His disciples immediately before entering the garden of Gethsemane; Thy Word is TRUTH.
Now, take the Divine Truth of the Word of God, as being what the Lord means when He speaks of His blood, and see how it answers to the various things He says about His blood.
(a) As a means of cleansing from sin, it is evident that this an affect which might naturally be expected of itthat such cleansing is, indeed, its intended effect. The Divine Truth of the Word is largely concerned with teaching us what things are sins, and with warning us against, and forbidding us to commit them. And if we apply such truths to our lives, that is, practice and obey them, it cannot but result, that, ceasing, in obedience to the Lords Divine Truth, to commit our sins, we shall eventually be cleansed from them by the Truth.
(b) As a medium for washing robes, or clothesspiritual robes, of course; which are our beliefs respecting things spiritual and Divinethe Divine Truth of the Word of God is, evidently, equally appropriate and effectual. Those beliefs are true and genuine in the proportion in which they are derived from, and agree with, that Word. That IS truth (John xvii. 17); and our beliefs are true, in the degree in which they are in accord with it; and washing our beliefs, is, purging or purifying them from error, by comparing them with, and conforming them to, the Divine Truth of the Word,--or, in the correspondential language of that word, washing them in the blood of the Lamb. And such washing of our beliefs will make them WHITEfor white, just as plainly signifies pure, genuine, truein proportion as conforming them to Divine Truth corrects their errors.
(c) Divine Truth, moreover, is the drink of the soul. To drink-in a persons words, in the unconscious imagery of our everyday speech, is to warmly and heartily learn, accept and embrace what the person is saying; and to drink the Divine Truth of the Word of God is, in like manner, to eagerly accept that truth as true, and so assimilate it to the substance of our minds.
(d) It is by the Divine Truth of the Word, also, that we can overcome in our spiritual conflictsthat is, our temptations; for the overcoming is, of course, a spiritual overcoming, as much as the washing and the drinking are spiritual washing and drinking. It was by the Divine Truth of the Word that the Lord overcame, when He was tempted. He met every temptation with an, It is written, followed by the citation of the particular Divine Truth that was written: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (Matt. Iii. 4, 7, 10). Thus, He made the Word of God the ground of His resistance to temptation; and by the Divine Truth of that Word, He overcame. Our overcoming, also, is conditioned in the same way, and to be brought about by the same means. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, or the blood of the Son of Man, or the blood of the Covenant,that is, by the Divine Truth of the Word called up and obeyed in the moment of temptation; and real, lasting victory can be obtained by no other means.
In regard, next, to eating the Lords flesh, we start from the point that the Lord here expressly speaks of His flesh as food: My flesh is meat (or, food), indeed (ver. 55)of course, the meat, or food, of the soul. When in the world, the Lord taught very clearly that there is spiritual food as well as natural food; food for the soul as well as for the body. Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God (Matt. Iii. 4). On a certain occasion, also, when the disciples had been away into a town they had reached in one of their journeys with Jesus, to buy food, and, returning with the food they had purchased, offered Jesus some of it, He said to them, I have meat [i. e. food] to eat that ye know not of. And on their exclaiming, Hath my man brought Him aught to eat? He went on to explain: My meat [i. e. food] is TO DO THE WILL OF HIM THAT SENT ME, and to finish His work (John iv. 32-4). Now, every one knows that the will of god is absolutely and unmixedly goodso much so, indeed, as to be Goodness itself. And this will of God, or Divine Goodness, is made known to man in the word, to enlighten his native darkness as to what is really good, to the end that he may be led to aspire to, and strive after, genuine goodness, and not waste time and energy in the pursuit of a delusive and imaginary goodness, which is not truly good at all.
It is this great and vital truth that the Lord declares in the words we have been considering, and that we should have in mind when, in the Holy Supper, we representatively, in the wine, drink the Lords Blood, and, in the bread, eat His Body.
This example amply suffices to exhibit the real nature of the Spiritual Sense of the Word, of which, especially, we speak in this chapter, and which is, everywhere, the real meaning of the Word of the Lord. In its Spiritual Sense, the Word treats exclusively of things the nature, property and tendency of which are those that the Apostle Paul tells Timothy are the nature and properties of all God-inspired Scripture: ALL Scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim. iii. 16-17).
Incidentally, we note that it is always the Spiritual Sense that prominently and manifestly serves these needful purposes; and also that, in many, and even in most, casestaking into account all that the Word contains, in both Testaments, but especially in the Oldit is only in the Spiritual Sense that these purposes are served at all. To a large extent, it is literally and absolutely true that the flesh [i. e. the letter] profiteth NOTHINGnothing, that is, in the way of direct spiritual edificationit is the spirit that giveth life. But concerning all, the Lords gracious assurance is absolutely true: The words that I speak unto you, they ARE Spirit and they ARE Life.
CHAPTER 9. HOW THE SPIRITUAL SENSE IS ARRIVED AT
CHAPTER 10. THE SPIRITUAL SENSE DISCLOSED
CHAPTER 11. THE NEW EXEGESIS APPLIED TO THE CREATION-STORIES IN GENESIS
CHAPTER 12. PARALLEL VIEW OF THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF GENESIS 1
BOOK IV INTERPRETATION
9.--How the Spiritual Sense is arrived at.
THE reader who has intelligently followed the working out of the example of the Spiritual Sense of the Word furnished in the last chapter, is now able to form a tolerably clear idea of what the Spiritual Sense is. We feel it safe to assume, also, that, if he is possessed of any living interest in spiritual things, he has already begun, or, at any rate, is already beginning, to realize something of the' rich possibilities that lie before him, in the event of his being able to have the Spiritual Sense of other parts of the Word unfolded in a similar manner. Scores of passages may occur to every affectionate and devout reader of the Word, of which he all too clearly perceives that "the flesh profiteth nothing," and which he has been, perforce, compelled to put aside as either having no meaning profitable for spiritual purposes, or as "mysteries," for the solution of which he must wait until his arrival in another world.
In the minds of such, question after question will arise, pressing for instant reply: "Where can I learn more of this Spiritual Sense? How is it to be arrived at? Can I, perhaps, by a close study of the method employed in the last chapter--that is, as it appears, by an ingenious detection and skilful following up of clues to be found here and there in the Letter--work it out for myself, in other places? Or, failing this-and it may easily fail, in my inexperienced hands--is there, perchance, some one, somewhere, who has made the working out of this Spiritual Sense of the Word his life's study--as it may well be, for any man--who will impart it to those who wish to learn? If so, who is he, and where can I find him? Can any man achieve the stupendous task, by the application of any ingenuity and skill whatever, of eliciting, with certainty, the meaning that God intended in every part of His parabolic Word? Could any one but God Himself, who gave the Word, make known the Spiritual Sense which, in giving it, He stored up within it?"
This eager stream of interrogatories evidently converges in those that stand at the end; and all may be brought to a head, in the one: "Does not the 'parabolic' character of the Word necessitate the giving, at some future time, of a further Revelation to make known its inner sense? or, alternatively, is there any other way of arriving at it?" And to this question--left over, as the reader may remember, from Chapter 7--we now address ourselves.
The question with which we are now confronted would seem to be very conclusively answered by the experience of the Christian Church. All who are in any degree familiar with early Christian history, are aware that belief in a spiritual, or, as it was called, an "allegorical" sense of the Scriptures, was very general in the first centuries. This mode of interpretation retained its hold on the Church, with some fluctuations, through the whole period of the middle ages, and up to the revival of classical learning in the fifteenth century. The greatest--though by no means the only-name associated with this method of interpretation is, unquestionably, that of Origen; who, in his fourth book, De Principis, has the following statement on the subject: "The sentiments of the Holy Scriptures are to be impressed on our minds in a three-fold manner, in order that [a] whosoever, belongs to the simpler sort of persons may receive edification from the flesh of the Scripture (thus we call their obvious meaning), but [b] he who is somewhat more advanced, from its soul;
As a consequence, the principle itself of spiritual interpretation has come to be explicitly rejected, and the opposite one--referred to in a former chapter--of "a literal interpretation only where a literal interpretation is possible," almost universally affirmed, maintained and practiced, in its stead. In the cases--and they are quite numerous, especially in the prophetic Books--in which a literal interpretation is not possible, the so-called "spiritual interpretations" offered--as such sometimes are--are, of course, just as destitute of authority, and just as untrustworthy, as the patristic ones; and, for the most part, they lie under the self-same reproach of arbitrariness, fancifulness, and the rest of it, as those. Indeed, there obtains a more or less veiled admission, that where a literal interpretation is impossible, the Word is a mere riddle, at which every one makes his own guess--if he cares to-and in which one man's guess is as good as another's, inasmuch as no one knows the answer; or, else, the open admission, that, in these places, the Divine Word cannot be understood, and was not meant to be!
The significant fact remains, however, avouched by the express dictum of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by a thousand instances, that the Word of the Lord claims for itself a spiritual interpretation, and repudiates, in the clearest terms, a merely and exclusively literal one: "The flesh profiteth nothing: it is the spirit that quickeneth: the words that I speak unto you, they ARE SPIRIT" (John vi. 63). The position, therefore, which Protestant Christendom as a whole, asserts and maintains to-day, is at open variance with the teaching of the Word itself; which fact, alone, is its all-sufficing condemnation.
The answer furnished by the experience of the Church, to our present question--as to the necessity, or otherwise, of a further Revelation to make known the "inner sense" of the "parabolic" Revelation we have in the Word--would, therefore, unquestionably seem to be, that, within certain narrow limits, a spiritual or "allegorical" sense tending to edification, can be worked out, in ingenious hands, by the aid of clues to be found in the Letter of the Word, without any further Revelation; but that, as regards the Word as a whole, the drawing forth of a coherent, trustworthy, consistent, truly instructive, and especially an authoritative spiritual sense worthy the name, is hopeless; and that only a Revelation of that sense by Him who gave the Word whose inner sense it is, and who alone, therefore, knows that sense with certainty, and is thus able to make it known to men, is adequate to the need.
In view of all this, how much to the point, and how clearly final, rings the language of the Book of Revelation: "And NO MAN in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, WAS ABLE TO OPEN THE BOOK, neither to look thereon. And I wept much (v. 3-4). And no less to the point, and withal full of hope and promise, is the sequel: "And one of the elders said unto me, Weep not; behold; the LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDA, THE ROOT OF DAVID, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof" (ver. 5). What other can this "opening" of "the Book" be, than the laying open, or making known, of the Spiritual Sense all along contained within its every syllable, but hitherto concealed under the "seven seals" of the parabolic form of its Letter?
The Word, however, has other testimony, from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore carrying the highest possible authority; which has, as will be seen if it be allowed due consideration and its just weight, an unmistakable application to the matter before us. The testimony in question is contained in the Gospel according to John, at the place where we find it related, that, after the Last Supper, and thus at ale very end of His earthly ministry, our Lord said to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now" (John xvi. 12).
1 See footnote, p. 59, above.
In this conclusion, we have more than the reply to the question we set out to answer. The parabolic character of the Word does demand a further Revelation, to impart the "inner sense" of our present one the Lord Jesus Christ, at the end of His career in the world, promised that He would give a further Revelation, when men should be "able to bear it":
"AND ONE OF THE ELDERS SAID UNTO ME, WEEP NOT; BEHOLD, THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDA, THE ROOT OF DAVID, HATH PREVAILED TO OPEN THE BOOK, AND TO LOOSE THE SEVEN SEALS THEREOF" (Rev. v. 5).
10.The Spiritual Sense disclosed.
IN the preceding pages we have satisfied ourselves that God has given us a Revelation of and from Himself, adequate to the spiritual requirements of mankind, from the time it was first given until now, in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This Revelation, however, proves, on investigation, and on due consideration of the evidence which itself furnishes, to be parabolic in form and character, and so to contain, within its literal sense, a richness and abundance of interior spiritual and Divine Truth incomparably more precious than anything its Letter brings to light, in an inner or spiritual sense NOT revealed with it. This inner sense, we have also seen, demands--unless the best that the Word given contains, its "Spirit," is to be for ever lost to mankind--a further Revelation for its disclosure, and this necessary further Revelation is actually promised in the existing one.
In view of all this, and of the fact that, throughout the greater part of the present work, we have been proclaiming this "inner sense" of the Word; and, in one, chapter, have even set forth an example of it, somewhat at length, it must be seen to follow, of necessity, that this further Revelation is even now in the world.
This is the case. It is that, and that alone, which has enabled us to give the example of the Spiritual Sense of the Word above referred to, in spiritually interpreting the Lord's mysterious saying about the indispensableness to salvation and eternal life, of "eating His flesh and drinking His blood"; to know that there is a Spiritual Sense in every part of the Word, and to present to our readers some reasoned grounds for believing this to be the case. It is not that we are cleverer or worthier than others: it is simply and solely that the Lord has now made known the Spiritual Sense of His Word, and the interior doctrine pertaining to it and necessary to its comprehension, in that further Revelation which, at the very end of His earthly ministry, He promised to give when men should be "able to bear" it. And the reader is now entitled to know where this further Revelation is to be found, and something more about it. This we now proceed to tell him.
This Revelation, then, is contained in the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, consisting, in their English translation, of over thirty volumes, and embracing more than fifteen distinct works. Of these, the Arcana Coelestia (in 12 vols.); The Apocalypse Revealed; The Apocalypse Explained (6 vols.), are purely expository, and are devoted to the unfolding of the Spiritual Sense of the Divine Word, verse by verse, clause by clause, and almost word by word, in the Books, in the case of the Arcana Coelestia, of Genesis and Exodus, and in that of The Apocalypse Revealed and The Apocalypse Explained, as their titles imply, of the Book of the Revelation.
Now, although these works are directly concerned with unfolding the Spiritual Sense of only three of the Books of the Word, the plan adopted in the spiritual exposition of those three is such as to incidentally state, or more or less explicitly or implicitly indicate, the Spiritual Sense of the remaining Books also. There is likewise a fourth work, small in size and brief in statement, but of inexpressible value to the student of the Spiritual Sense of the Word, called: A Summary Exposition of the Internal Sense of the Prophets and Psalms.
The remainder of the works that make up this new Revelation are of a doctrinal character, and their scope may for the most part be discerned from their titles. We give the principal of these:
Heaven and Hell; from things heard and seen.
The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine.
The Earths in the Universe.
The Last Judgment, and Babylon Destroyed.
The Doctrine of the Lord.
The Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture.
The Doctrine of Life.
The Doctrine of Faith.
The Divine Love and Wisdom.
The Divine Providence.
Conjugial [or "Marriage"] Love.
The Intercourse of the Soul and the Body.
The True Christian Religion; containing the entire Theology of the New Church foretold by the Lord in Daniel (vii.) and in the Revelation (ch. xxi. and xxii.).
One is under a strong temptation to attempt something like a sketch of the system of doctrine taught in these works--constituting as it does a body of Christian Divinity, which, for comprehensiveness, rationality and spirituality, for its complete accord with the Word of God truly understood, for the satisfaction it affords alike to heart, to soul and to head, for the light it sheds upon the Divine Nature and methods, upon the spiritual constitution and eternal destiny of man, upon the spiritual solidarity of the human race in all natural and spiritual worlds, and upon the nature of man's life after death, is unequalled, nay unrivalled, not only at the present day, but in the annals of religious thought in any age. But space forbids.
Three points, however, demand mention. First this whole system rests upon the foundation truth that the Lord, Jesus Christ in His glorified or DIVINE Humanity, is, the only God of heaven and earth; and that the Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three Divine Persons, but three Divine Essentials comprehended in the ONE Divine Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the soul, body and the forth-flowing active life are comprehended in and constitute one living man.
Secondly, the Spiritual Sense brings to light the truth that the promised Second Coming of the Lord, involving when literally interpreted such perplexities and difficulties as they have involved from the days of the Apostles to our own day, is not a Coming in Person, but in the Word, effected by the Revelation of its Spiritual Sense, in such a manner that it shall be rationally perceivable as its real meaning, and also of the doctrines relating to that sense. The prophecy, as the Lord gave it from His own lips, and caused it afterwards to be recorded in the Letter of His Word, is: "They shall see the. Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matt. xxv. 30). The "Son of Man," in the Spiritual Sense, applies to the Lord in His character of Divine Truth or the Word: the character in which, be it remembered, He came into the world at His First Advent in the Flesh (see John i. 1, 14.). The employment of this title in the prophecy of the Second Advent is, when spiritually understood, incontestable evidence, that He will come in the same character of Divine Truth, or the Word, at His Second Advent, as He did at His First.
Similarly, in the prophecy of the Second Coming of the Lord in "the clouds of heaven," the meaning is that Divine Truth shall then descend into, and be perceived in, even the densest of the "clouds" of the Letter of the Word; in so many of which, literally understood, it is impossible to see any truth at all, much less Divine Truth. It is evident that the only way in which such an effect can be brought about, is by the hitherto concealed Spiritual Sense being revealed in such a manner that those who will may see that it really is the Spiritual Sense of the Letter. "With power and great glory" signifies, that this effect will be accompanied by an increase of the "power" of the Word against evil and falsity, with those who receive the Lord at His coming, and by the Word itself becoming with them radiant, luminous and glorious from the Spiritual Sense then brought to light.
And, Thirdly, the "New Jerusalem," mentioned in the closing chapters of the Book of the Revelation--and of the entire Scriptures--means neither a city on earth, nor a city in heaven, but a new age or Dispensation of religion, to be inaugurated by the Lord on the basis of this Revealed Spiritual Sense of the Word, and the body of doctrine, also revealed, accompanying that sense; and thus, in the proper sense of the term, a New Church. A Church discriminated from the Churches of the generally accepted Christianity of today as radically--though in a different way--as that Christianity itself, when "new" and in its purity and integrity, was discriminated from the Jewish Church whose place it took for ministering to the spiritual needs of mankind.
This will have to suffice, in this place, for a description of the contents, or of the fundamental characteristics, of the books in which the Spiritual Sense of the Word of God is at this day made known.
It will be remembered that, in speaking of the further revelation that was to be given when men were able to "bear" it--that is, to be benefited and not injured, by it--the Lord spoke of it distinctly as one that He would give, just as He had given the one then existing: "These things have I spoken unto you in parables; but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father" (John xvi. 25). It was He who was to "show" these things: though, of course, if He showed them by a written Revelation, He would have to show them by means of a man through whom the Revelation would be given, We also realized for ourselves, on other grounds, in our last chapter, that to suppose that any one but He who gave the Word could give the Spiritual Sense of it, was wholly out of the question. The point arises, therefore, How do these books which profess to give the Spiritual Sense of the Word and its doctrine, stand, in relation to this important requirement?
The best way to answer this inquiry, is to let Swedenborg himself bear witness. Quite towards the end of the last work of the series, The True Christian Religion, published when he was in his eighty-fourth year, and thus on the confines of eternity, we find the following deliberate and solemn testimony:
The Second Coming of the Lord is a Coming, not in Person, but in the Word, which is from Him, and is Himself. This Second Coming of the Lord is effected by the instrumentality of a man before whom He has manifested Himself in Person, and whom He has filled with His Spirit, to teach from Him the doctrines of the New Church by means of the Word.
In fuller explanation of this announcement, he goes on:
Since the Lord cannot manifest Himself in Person to the world, which has just been shown to be impossible, and yet has foretold that He would come again and establish a New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, it follows that He will do this by the instrumentality of a man who is able not only to receive the doctrines of that Church in his understanding, but also to make them known by the press. That the Lord manifested Himself before me, His servant, that He sent me on this office, and afterwards opened the sight of my spirit, and so let me into the spiritual world, permitting me to see the heavens and the hells, and also to converse with angels and spirits, and this now continually for many years--all this I testify in truth; and, further, that, from the first day of that Call, I have not taken anything that relates to the doctrines of that Church from any angel, but from the Lord alone while I have been reading the Word (nos. 776 and 779).
So far as to the source of the doctrines contained in these books: "all is from the Lord alone.
He makes an entirely identical statement in reference to the Spiritual Sense of the Word disclosed in them.
Any one may see that the Apocalypse could not possibly be, explained save by the Lord alone, since every word of it contains mysteries that could not possibly be known without some special enlightenment and hence revelation; wherefore, it has pleased the Lord to open the sight of my spirit and to teach me. Think not, therefore, that anything here given is from myself, or from any angel, but from the Lord alone.
A similar claim is made on behalf of the disclosures concerning the life after death, which constitute so distinctive a feature of the body of doctrine given through Swedenborg, and to which a special work, Heaven and Hell., is exclusively devoted. The introductory paragraph of the work mentioned, concludes with the following announcement
The arcana revealed in the following pages, are concerning heaven and hell, and also concerning the life after death. The man of the, Church at this day knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or his life after death, although all stand forth described in the Word yea, many who are born within the Church deny them, saying in their hearts, "Who has come from that world and told us?" Lest, therefore, such denial, which prevails especially with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infest and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been permitted me to be in company with angels, and "to speak with them as man with man, and also to see the things that are in the heavens and that are in the hells and to describe them from the things seen and heard, in the hope that ignorance may be enlightened and unbelief dispelled.
In these works, therefore, Swedenborg does not claim to be setting forth anything of his own: on the contrary, he expressly disavows any other source for anything they contain than "the Lord alone." They are the product of "a special enlightenment and hence revelation," and are neither from himself nor even from any angel, but "from the Lord alone." So far, then, they appear to be what we need.
One other point may present a difficulty. The future revelation which the Lord promised to give, was one in which He would not speak "in parables" but "plainly"; it should not be couched in a parabolic outer, form, but would be expressed in the everyday language of plain speech. Now, no one can read the works we are here discussing, and doubt that they answer to this description. That is not the' difficulty that will be felt; but, in view of what we learned in' the chapter on "The distinguishing Feature of Divine Authorship," how non-parabolic writing can be true Divine Revelation.
The answer is, firstly, that Swedenborg's works are not the product of the direct Divine Authorship that gave the Word, but of an indirect one; secondly, that it is only the products of direct Divine Authorship, or of Divine authorship strictly so called, that are necessarily parabolic in character; and, thirdly, that the character of "Revelation" may equally pertain to books that are the product of indirect and of direct Divine Authorship.
In the case of Swedenborg, he lays it down that the Lord needed for the purposes of this Revelation, in which he was to make His Second Coining, a man possessed of the ability to "receive these doctrines in his own understanding" and "also to make them known by the press." The former "ability" involved a rational mind of a sufficiently high degree and wide scope of cultivation to be able to "receive in the understanding," as distinguished from mechanically, the sublime truths which the Lord desired to communicate to the world: the latter involved skill and experience in what we ordinarily mean by "authorship," in order that what was revealed to Swedenborg's "understanding," Swedenborg might put into words, rationally present and corroborate by suitable proofs, and so give forth to men. The impartation of the truths to Swedenborg was the Lord's: it was thus "Revelation"; but the literary "authorship" of the books by which they were communicated to the world was committed to Swedenborg.
This is the testimony of the man who was called of God to this great task. It is not to be supposed however, that, though the authorship was committed to Swedenborg, he was left to himself in it: he must have had a constant illumination and guidance in his authorship, which should secure that through it the world should receive the actual truths revealed to Swedenborg, to the end that through him those truths themselves might reach mankind.
We are perfectly well aware that objections may arise in many minds to much that has been here stated; and the temptation is strong upon us to anticipate and reply to at least some of the most obvious of them--although, at the same time, we are sure that no rational or Scriptural objections can be maintained against anything that has been said. In saying this, we "speak that we do know and testify that we have seen" for ourselves, and are prepared to substantiate at a suitable opportunity. Such opportunity is not now, however. It was our duty, here, to tell the reader, plainly, frankly and candidly, that which would enable him to form a serviceable conception o that further Revelation disclosing the spiritual sense of the Word and various cognate matters, which our former studies have shown us must come sometime, if man is ever to come into the use and enjoyment of the deeper, more beautiful and more wonderful revelation which God has stored up in the Spiritual Sense of His Word, and which, in the course of Divine Providence, we, for our part, have come to be convinced--yea, to know--is now in the world.
This we had to do; and this, as well as ability permits, we have done. In view of all this, we make no apology for drawing freely and openly upon these works, in setting forth what has still to be told concerning the Spiritual Sense of the Word NOW DISCLOSED. Our next duty, to which we address ourselves in the following chapter, is to try to convey to the reader, by means of an outstanding example an adequate idea of what this Spiritual Sense of the Word now revealed is, and of what it does for the Word and for man.
11.--The new Exegesis applied to the Creation-stories in Genesis.
WE have chosen the Creation-stories in Genesis as our leading example of what the Spiritual Sense does for the Divine Word, partly because it is the very beginning of the Word, partly because in this portion some of the most striking difficulties ordinarily experienced in accepting the Scriptures as the very Word of God are as it were focused, and partly because it is so rich and varied in typically illustrative material.
It will not, however, be possible, in the space at our disposal, and it might easily prove tedious to the reader, for us to present the Spiritual Sense to be here set forth, in the constructive and reasoned manner adopted in the case of the Lord's words concerning the eating of His Flesh and the drinking of His Blood, in Chapter 8, by reason of the great extent of the ground to be covered. The method, in the main, will have to` be, to simply state what the Spiritual Sense of the; various expressions in the Letter is, without any !attempt at proof by appeal either to rational considerations or to Scripture usage.
But, as a preliminary, it will be necessary for us to show from Scripture usage, that the main topic of the literal narrative--viz., Creation--actually is employed, in the Divine Word, in the meaning assigned to it in the Spiritual Sense. That meaning is, Regeneration. The word Regeneration itself, of course, means being born again; and the new birth, or the re birth, that it denotes, is the spiritual birth, or the being born of the Spirit, from above.
Now, the idea of ,birth is closely akin to that of creation. The birth of an individual human being is, distinctly, a "creation." Not a making of something out of nothing; for "out of nothing--nothing comes," but of bringing into existence that which had no existence before. It should follow, therefore, that regeneration, or the being born anew, or, what is the same thing, the spiritual "birth," must be much the same thing as being created anew, or spiritual "creation"--thus, creation in the spiritual sense. And we constantly find the term "creation" applied, in the Word, to the subject, the processes and the effects, of Regeneration.
It is, for instance, part of the doctrine of Regeneration that that process implies and confers a "new heart" and a "new spirit"--a new will in accord with the Divine will, and a new understanding by which "spiritual things" may be "spiritually discerned," as they need to be; and, in one place, we find the word "create" applied to the conferring of these specific gifts of Regeneration: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psa. li. 10). And, in keeping with this idea of Regeneration as being a new, or spiritual, Creation, we find Paul saying, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God bath before ordained that we should walk in them" (ii. 10); and, again, in the same: "That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which, after God, is CREATED in righteousness and true holiness" (iv. 224).
Also, however, we find the idea of a creation of heaven and earth, in particular, which is what we are specially concerned with in the opening chapters of Genesis, employed where Regeneration is evidently what is meant. It is said, in Isaiah li. 16: "And I have put My words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of Mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art My people." "Planting the heavens" and "laying the foundations of the earth," is evidently only another way of saying "Creating the heavens and the earth," and must mean the same thing. This passage, therefore, carries identically the same idea as the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis: "God created the heavens and the earth." Yet, here, in Isaiah, it is manifestly impossible for the idea to be taken in a literal sense, as it is--apart from the Spiritual Sense of the Word with which we are concerned--almost universally taken in Genesis; for the reason that the creation of heaven and earth here spoken of are future and contingent, and not past and accomplished: "that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and (that I nay) say unto Zion, Thou art My people." Moreover, creating the heavens and the earth, literally construed, could have no effect whatever in enabling God to "say unto Zion, Thou art My people."
We know, then, beyond any peradventure, that the "creation of heaven and earth" is mentioned in the Divine Word' when the Regeneration of the human soul is what is really meant, and that, in such cases at all events, the term "create" does not bear its literal meaning at all.
With what relief we can now turn our minds from the "unprofitableness" of the Letter, in the portion of the Word with which we have to deal, to the Spiritual Sense, knowing, that the theme on which God is here, at the outset of His Word, addressing us, is one so intrinsically "profitable" for our spiritual welfare as that of Regeneration!
"In the beginning," in the Spiritual Sense, does not mean, as in the literal, the first thing in point of tune, but the first thing in point of regard and end; just as "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God" means, rather, making the Kingdom of God our chief concern and aim, than giving it priority over other things as regards time. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," therefore, signifies that the chief aim and real end of all God's doings and operations, and specifically the chief aim and real end of the Word, at the threshold of which this announcement stands, is the Regeneration of Man as to the affections, thoughts, ideals and motives he inwardly cherishes, as well as the thoughts and intentions he externally formulates and adopts, and the actions he performs. Both these planes of life must be regenerated; or Regeneration is not accomplished at all.
"The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep," signifies, that man's spiritual condition, before Regeneration commences, is one of complete destitution of all spiritual life as regards both good and truth--"without form," pointing to his destitution of all genuine good and "void" to his destitution of all genuine truth. "Darkness upon the face of the deep," is dullness, and essential--not necessarily formal--ignorance, in reference to the "deep" things of the Spirit of God; which to the unregenerate or "natural" mind are mere "foolishness" (I Cor. ii. 14). Man is essentially ignorant of any truth the force and significance of which he has not realized.
"The Spirit of God moved [or, more felicitously, `brooded'] upon the face of the waters," signifies, the Lord's Holy, Spirit infusing something of life and motion into the knowledge--signified by the "waters"--of Divine and heavenly things derived from the Word, which exist in the memory of every person who becomes the subject of Regeneration. The knowledges here in question, are such as that God is, that He is Good Itself and Truth Itself, and that man cannot hope ever to attain any good and truth (spiritual, of course) except from Him. The very first step in the direction of Regeneration, is that the man be brought to realize that these knowledges--to him, hitherto, so many verbal statements merely--are, or may be, of vital moment to him as an immortal being. And this is brought about by "the Spirit of God brooding" over them, or "upon the face of the waters," in his mind.
"And God said, Let there be light; and there was light," is the first fruits of this "brooding" of the Holy Spirit, in the case of the person who permits himself to respond to the holy influence, and the first actual step in the path of Regeneration. For, "light" signifies truth; and, to such a person, the previously meaningless "knowledges" begin now to assume yet more the new character of truths; and, discerning their truth, and realizing in a measure their immense practical moment, he begins to awake to the tremendous significance for eternity, that life holds.
The regenerating man is next given by the Lord to discern a profound difference between this new state, which now dawns upon him for the first time, and the state in which alone he has been hitherto "God divides [for him] the light [that now is] from the darkness [which, alone, formerly was]. And God called the light Day; and the darkness He called Night." Not, however, that man has left his natural, worldly, selfish, unregenerate states behind, finally and for ever: they will assert themselves again and again, throughout his regenerative experience; but, unless he "goes away backward" (Isa. i. 4.), his life is lived, henceforth, on a higher level than ever before, and will be a constant advance to higher levels still, in relation to which, at each advance, the level last left is a "natural" and worldly one. Every fresh step is from natural to spiritual, from unregenerate to regenerate, in some new respect. Hence, each day's regenerative achievement is summed up in the refrain--looking back to the last previous state as the one from which the present one set out--"the evening and the morning were the first [second, third, etc.] day." "Evening" first, "morning" afterwards: "For that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and AFTERWARDS that which is spiritual" (1 Cor. xv. 46)--in the first step, and in every step.
"And God said, Let there be a firmament--or more exactly, 'expanse'--in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." The recurrence of the word "waters," signifying, as we remember, knowledges, admonishes us that the state is still an intellectual one--for knowledges are manifestly of the intellect-while the purpose of the "firmament" as being to "divide the waters' from the waters," or, as it is put in the next verse, "the waters that were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament," clearly indicates that a discrimination as regards the state now under consideration is introduced. This' discrimination is that of the Internal Man from the External, and of the knowledges that belong to the Internal Man from those belonging to the External--a distinction manifestly of high practical importance. "Before man is regenerated, he does not so much as know that there is an Internal Man, much less does he know its nature and qualities. Being wholly occupied with corporeal and worldly things, in which the faculties of his Internal Man also are immersed, he cannot conceive of any difference between this and his External; and thus he forms a confused and obscure notion. of one single thing, from two perfectly distinct things.1
1 Arcana Coelestia, no. 24.
"And God called the firmament, Heaven." The "firmament" is the Internal Man--which is what is signified by "Heaven"--the clear discrimination of which, brought home at this stage, to the person undergoing; Regeneration, carries with it the discrimination between the things in him that are from the Lord, on the one hand, and those that are of and from the man himself and the world, on the other. For with every regenerating person there are both these classes of things. "And the evening and the morning were the second day."
With the third step, a new factor is introduced--the practical factor-signified by the "dry land" which now appears"; and actual fruits begin to be produced. "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
The work of this stage of Regeneration, however, is not merely the perception that actual living according to all the Lord's teachings in His Word is essential: it is also such actual living itself, in the bringing forth of the spiritual fruits of the "earth"; which are, in a word, "fruits meet for Repentance." This, in fact, is the stage of actual Repentance; which consists, not simply in a change of mind towards evil and sin, but in a change of life towards them. From this stage onwards, all evils of every kind forbidden in the Word, are eschewed; resisted and put away, because they are sins against God. This course of conduct, inspired by this motive, is the first actual step in the truly spiritual life, and constitutes, as is manifest, a new life. The life so regulated, and so inspired, is the "new life"; and there is no "new life" on any other terms. We do not leap, however, to the full maturity of the state all at once. It is a gradual, orderly progression and succession "first the blade; then the ear; and after that the full corn in the ear" (Mark iv. 28); or, first the "tender grass," then; the "seed-yielding herb," and, after that, the "tree bearing fruit, whose seed is in itself"--carrying with it a self-perpetuating faculty, which is the promise of yet further progress.
The fourth state is evidently something more radical than a new "stage"; for it transfers the scene of the creative work from the earth and its vegetable products to the sky and the celestial. bodies, It is more fitly described as a new "epoch," the productions of which are not mere growths, or developments, but, more properly, "creations." The scene, "heaven," signifies, as before, the Internal Man, as the plane immediately concerned in this stage; and the heavenly luminaries, sun, moon and stars, which God "set" in it "to give light" upon the "earth," signify certain spiritual graces, which the Lord now, in virtue of the work of actual Repentance having been accomplished in the previous stage, is able to impart to the person undergoing Regeneration, and establish in his Internal Man, to the end that, in subsequent stages further regenerative achievements may be brought to pass by their means.
The attainments of the fifth stage of, Regeneration, which we now approach, are the result and product of the new conditions established by the Lord in the Internal Man, in the fourth, and are represented by the living things (a) of the waters and (b) of the airwhich are lower and higher planes, respectively; of the Understanding, and thus of "Faith."
This seems to be the place to bring forth a truth of commanding importance to the understanding of the processes of Regeneration-the truth that, the stage of putting away gross and manifest evils and selfishnesses and worldlinesses from our external conduct, once passed-and this is, properly speaking, quite an early stage-spiritual progress does not consist in the outward, visible form of the life, but in its inward, invisible quality. The outward acts are the same as before, the same forms of piety continue to be used, the same proprieties observed, the same honesties and integrities in business practiced; and, in a word, to the outside observation there is no difference whatever to show that any change in the person's spiritual life is taking place. Yet, great changes may be occurring--in fact, changes certainly are occurring; for the spiritual life is never stationary, but always either progressing or retrograding. The changes, however, are, as said above, not in the outward form of the life but in its inward quality; and its, inward quality results from the principle from which the life is lived.
Previous, therefore, to man's attainment of the fourth stage of Regeneration, and his reception, then, of the Lord's regenerative gifts of Love and Faith from which to live henceforth, even his best efforts were but a stretching forth to, a striving after, and indeed, a preparation for, truly SPIRITUAL life; for it is evident that the life is not truly spiritual before it is inspired by the spiritual graces of Love and Faith. Now, however, that, in the progress of Regeneration, man has received these heavenly graces in his Internal Man from the Lord, which actually are the Lord with him, he is able, for the first time, to live, spiritually.
The realization of this ability, however, in attained states, is, like all else in a Regenerate life, a progressive matter; and it consists in his living this life, now, FROM Love and Faith. And he has to train himself to do this. He still can live it from motives of "enlightened self-interest," out of regard to his own happiness in eternity, or to his own spiritual improvement in the present time: but he is led of the Lord, now, to gradually put away and dethrone these lower motives, and live from the higher ones now available to him. And, first, he begins by living it from Faith, or religious Principle; for, Faith, as a manifestly lower motive than Love, is nearer to his commencing level; and, first of all, it is from a Faith comparatively natural. His life then is truly living and spiritual in the lowest degree and is represented by the lowest living things--the fish of the sea. This plane being fulfilled and established, and his Faith being thereby opened more interiorly, and consequently become a fully "spiritual" Faith, he, from that loftier Faith, perceives higher and deeper spiritualities in life than ever before, and delights to fill the common acts of life, one after another, and more and more perfectly, as lie becomes more expert in it, with higher spiritualities thus brought within his vision and reach. His thoughts, affections, actions, aspirations, and the rest, are now of a higher. spiritual quality, and are represented by the higher living things of naturethe birds of the air.
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
The sixth stage has two stepsthe first represented by the land animals, the second by man. When man lives his life under the influence of Love, or of the NEW WILL (or new heart) in its various spiritual affections, every deed, word, thought and desire becomes inwardly alive with that Love, and is, in fact, some affection of spiritual Love, in ultimate form. The acts and other living activities of which it is made up, are, therefore, represented by the various land animals in their different ranks in the scale of organization and life; the progress sin the spiritual scale being indicated by the ascending degrees in the animal. Hence, then, it appears that man is in the fifth state of Regeneration, when he speaks and actsin a word, livesfrom Faith, which is of the Understanding, and confirms himself in truth and good thereby. The things then brought forth in his life are animate, and are here called the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens."
The final step in this Spiritual stage of Regeneration, is the gathering up of the affections of spiritual Love and the intuitions of spiritual Faith into ONE, which embraces in itself all the genuinely spiritual and thus abiding attainments that have gone before, in the fully matured and developed Spiritual Man-the attainment of the "perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. iv. 13). This it is that is "the image of God." The attainments of the immediately preceding stages were "images" of things in God, as every separate animal, bird, fish, vegetable and mineral is the reduction to terms of matter of some particular affection of the Love and perception of the Wisdom of God; but man, who is "in little all the sphere," and all the constituents and denizens of the sphere, is more than that: he is the "image," among creatures, of the total Divine Nature from which we know that God Himself is Man--Infinite and Divine Man, certainly, but Man all the same.
It is obvious, without our going into the details of the remaining verses of the, chapter, that they sum up and lay down the Divine order of the spiritual situation attained: that is, of the accomplished state of Regeneration, as regards the Spiritual Degree of the person undergoing it, or of the regenerated Spiritual Man. The dominant characteristic of the whole process from the beginning has been struggle, labor, conflict, perpetual striving, and climbing upward. It is on this account that in the 2nd chapter we read of God "resting," on the seventh day, "from all the work that He had made." "Rest" implies preceding labor, the occurrence of which, indeed, is distinctly expressed in the words cited. It is said that "God rested"--although God cannot get tired, or know struggle, or effort--because truly, and behind all appearances, the work of Regeneration is wholly the Lord's: the struggle and effort and conflict take, place; but they are experienced by the man, the Lord inspiring, strengthening and sustaining him in them, and at length giving him that final victory, and bringing him to, and establishing him in, the perfect manhood, "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
In this period of struggle and conflict the starting-point is always Truth, learned through external channels from the Word. The man learns the Lord's will by consulting the Truth of the Word; he finds the weapons for his spiritual warfare in the "It is written" of the Word; he builds his spiritual life, in general and in detail, on "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," on, namely, the Divine Truths of the Word. So, in this stage, the Understanding, the organ of truth, holds the higher, governing place in the spiritual life, and leads; and the Will, the organ of good (or, apart from Regeneration, of evil) holds the second place, and follows. There is, however, a state ahead of this, in which the start is from attained Good, in the new Will, in which, consequently, that new, Will holds the highest place, and leads, and the Understanding takes a subordinate place, and follows whither the Will leads the way. This is the crowning state of all, which, when it is reached and perfected is called the "Celestial Man"; and the spiritual evolution of the Celestial Man, by Regeneration carried still farther, is what is treated of in the, second story of "Creation" which occupies the 2nd chapter of Genesis.
12.--Parallel View of Literal and Spiritual Senses of Genesis i.
IN the last chapter the reader has been led in a descriptive and constructive manner, although most briefly, through the Spiritual Sense of the 1st chapter of Genesis, and has, it is hoped, gathered a fair general idea of the sort of difference that the Spiritual Sense now revealed makes to the Word. The first difference is, that, where the subject ,in the Letter is not spiritual at all, but natural, and the form quasi-scientific, it exhibits this natural Letter as carrying within it, as its inner and real sense; a meaning that is exclusively spiritual, in subject, scope and detail, directly bearing upon salvation, regeneration and eternal life. And it effects a like transformation in everything whatsoever that is truly "the Word of God"--no matter how:dark, unpromising, or even forbidding and false it may be under a literal construction. It is the same in the Old Testament histories, with their; grossnesses and cruelties and idolatries; in the unspiritual Jewish ritual, which formed that debased nation's idea of religion and worship;
But, while the reader will probably concede that an interpretation that can do for all Scripture, truly so called, what this does for the 1st chapter of Genesis, goes a long way towards vindicating its Divinity, by establishing its spirituality--if, only, it can be shown that this sense' is its real sense and is not merely asserted to be: about which more in our next chapter--he will, it is believed, obtain a clearer view of it, and thus be in, a better position for forming a judgment upon it, if it is brought before him in a smaller compass.
THE LETTER.* THE SPIRIT.*
1. In the beginning1 God2 created3 1. The primary purpose1 of all
the heavens 4 and the earths.5 Divine Truth2
--thus of the Word-is that man
should be regenerated,3 as to
both his internaL4 and his
2. And the earth 1 was without form3 and; 2. At the outset his external
void,3 and darkness4 was upon the face of man1 is entirely destitute2, 3
the deep5; and the Spirit6 of God moved of both goods and truth3
[or,brooded"7) upon the face of the waters.8 that are really such, and has
no perception4 whatever of the deep things of God5; and in this
state, the first thing is that
the Lord's Mercy6 insensibly
operates upon, and imparts some
faint movement to,7 his
knowledges8 of spiritual and
Divine things, derived from
3. And God said,1 Let there be light2; and 3. Divine Order requires,1 that
there was3 light man should have, at first, a
general perception3 of higher
good and truth than he has yet
conceived--and, firstly, as
regards the Understanding; which
he, accordingly, comes into3-
but, secondly, as regards the
*The index figures are to enable the reader to see at a glance the expression in the Literal Sense, in the first column, to which the specific points of the Spiritual Sense, given in the second column, answers For a first perusal, however, the reader will probably do well to disregard them, and to concentrate attention on the general sense of the whole statement.
are of the Lord7 with him, which are
true, and the things that are of
self,8 which are false; and that the
former9 things constitute a
Spiritual10 state with him, and the
latter11 a Natural12 state.
5. And the evening1 and the morning2 5. This progression from a state of
were the first day.3 shade, falsity and non-faith,1 to one
of brightness, truth and faith 2 is
the First state3 of Regeneration.
6. And God said,1 Let there be 6. Divine Order requires1 that
a firmament2 in the midst of the man should next perceive that he
waters, and let it divide3 the waters4 possesses a higher2 nature than
from the waters.5 that of which alone he has previously
been aware, and that he should
discriminate3 between the knowledges
pertaining to the one4 and those
pertaining to the other5; and,
firstly, as regards the
* See footnote to verses ii and 12, below.
7. And God1 made2 the firmament,3 and 7. The Lord,1 now, accordingly, gives2 divided4 the waters5 which were under to the regenerating man to discern
the firmament3 from the waters5 which that he has such higher nature,3
above the firmament3; and it was so. and to distinguish4 the Knowledges5
pertaining to his lower6 nature from
those5 pertaining to the higher3-
here, as regards the will.*
* See footnote to verse 11, below.
its feebleness and obscurity3 to its
power and brightness,4 and constitutes
the Second state5.
9. And God said,1 Let the waters2 9. Divine Order requires1 that
that are under3 the heavens be gathered the knowledges2
together unto one place4; and let of truth and good (hitherto hidden
the dry land5 appear6; and it was so.7 away in the higher, but) now brought
to light in the lower mind,3 should
next be arranged in order,4 and the
truth that regeneration is a matter of
the common everyday life,5 be
discerned6; which, accordingly, now
takes place7--and firstly as regards
10. And God called the dry1 land, 10. This common daily life constitutes
Earth2; and the gathering together4 the External man2; in the Memory3
of the waters3 called5 He Seas6: of which the knowledges3 of truth and
and God7 saw8 that it was good.9 good from within, are now stored up,4
and are signified,5 by "Seas"; and
Divine Truth7 reveals8 that this also
is of the Lord alone9--here, as
regards the Will.
11. And God1 said,* Let the earth2 11. The Divine Order1 at this stage
bring forth3 tender grass4 [A. V., is that the External man2 must
margin], the herb yielding seed,5 produce3 "fruits meet for Repentance,"
and the fruit tree yielding fruit8 in their order, first in an outermost
after his kind, whose seed is in form,4 then in a more interior,5
itself,7 upon the earth8; and lastly in one more interior
and it was so.9 still,6 which last would be as it were
self-perpetuating7 in the daily
conduct8; which, accordingly, takes
place9; and, firstly, as regards the
* In the repetitions which form so conspicuous a feature of this chapter, and are so especially marked in these verses, we have an illustration of a characteristic frequently encountered in the Divine Word; which is luminously explained in The Arcana Coelestia, in the course of the spiritual exposition of the account of the Deluge, thus: Here [in Gen. vii], as far as the fifth verse, are found almost the same things that were said in the previous chapter, merely changed m some little measure; and it is the same in the verses that follow. One who is not acquainted with the spiritual sense of the Word cannot but think that this is merely a repetition of the same thing. Similar instances occur in other parts of the Word; especially in the Prophets, where the same thing is expressed in different words, and sometimes is also taken up again and described a second time. But the reason is that there are two faculties in man which are most distinct from each other--the Will and the Understanding--and in the Word the two are treated of distinctly. This is the reason of the repetition (n. 707).
Thus, on the first occasion, in all such cases, one of these faculties--the Understanding--is treated of in the Spiritual Sense, and on the second, the other--the Will; as shown throughout the present chapter.
12. *And the earth1 brought forth2 12. The External man1 brings forth2
tender grass,3 and herb yielding the practical fruit of actual
seed4 after his kind, and the tree Repentance, in the putting away
yielding fruit5 whose seed was in of evils, first in act,3 next in itself,6 after his kind: and God7 thought and intention4 and lastly
saw8 that it was good.9 in purpose and will5; a work which,
from this point onwards, goes on
continually6--here, as regards the
Will.* This also, Divine Truth7
reveals,8 is of the Lord alone.9
13. And the evening1 and the morning2 13. This advance also proceeds
were the third day.3 from its obscurity and feebleness1
(to its brightness and power,2 and constitutes the Third state.3
states and Natural,6 and likewise to
discriminate all the varieties and
changes7 of state through which he has
yet to pass in his spiritual
15. and let them be for luminaries1 15. and to be centers of
in the expanse of the heavens2 enlightenment1 in the Internal man2
to give3 light upon the earth4: and it whence enlightenment should be
was so.5 communicable3 to the External;4 all
which, accordingly, comes to pass5
and, firstly, as to the Understanding.
16. And God1 made2 two great 16. The Lord1 accordingly endows2
luminaries3: the greater4 luminary man with two main centres3 of
to rule5 the day,6 and the lesser7 spiritual enlightenment: the higher
luminary to rule5 the night8: also and more excellent4 (which is Love),
the stars.9 to govern5 him in his Spiritual6
states, and the lower and less
excellent,7 (which is Faith), to
govern5 him in his Natural8 states:
and gives to man's cognitions* of good
and truth9 a measure of enlightening
quality not previously possessed.
* For the meaning of "cognitions" see the previous Chapter, p. 182 above.
18. and to rule1 over the day2 and 18. and to guide and govern1 the
over the night3 and to divide4 man in his Spiritual2 and Natural3
the light5 from the darkness6 and God7 states, and to enable him to
saw8 that it was good.9 distinguish4 between truth5 and
falsity6 here, as regards the Will;
Divine Truth revealing8 all as being
of the Lord alone.9
19. And the evening1 and the morning2 19. This advance also proceeds from
were the fourth day.3 its obscurity and feebleness1 to its
brightness and power2 and constitutes
the Fourth state.3
20. And God1 said,2 Let the waters3 20. Divine Orderl requires2 that,
bring forth abundantly the creeping*4 next, man's knowledges3 of good and
thing, the living soul,*5 and let truth, which are on the lower plane,4
fowl6 fly*7 above8 the earth, in the shall become animated by spiritual
face*9of the expanse of the heavens.10 life,5 and likewise his thoughts6 from
them, which rise7 to the higher,8 and
look towards9 the Internal man10
(and thus to the Lord)--and, firstly,
as to the Understanding.
* For all these readings, see margin of Authorized Version.
21. And God1 created2 great 21. The Lord1 now accordingly
sea-monsters3[R.V.], and every4 living regenerates2(or causes truly to
soul that creepeth, which the waters5 "live") all man's knowledge5 of good
brought forth abundantly after their and truth, both general2 and
kind, and every winged6 fowl7 after particular4 (by leading him to speak
his kind: and God8 saw9 that it and act from Faith), and, likewise,
was good.10 the heavenward6-looking thoughts7 of
his understanding; all which Divine
Truth8 reveals9 as being of the Lord
truths,3 to an indefinite extent,4
both the things of knowledge,5 on
their lowest plane5 of the mind, and
the thoughts7 of the understanding, on
their higher plane8--here, as to the
23. And the evening1 and the morning2 23. This advance, also, proceeds
were the fifth day.3 from its obscurity and feebleness1 to
its brightness and power,2 and
constitutes the Fifth state.3
24. And God said,1 Let the earth2 24. Divine Order requires1 that,
bring forth3 the living soul4 after next, the external life2 shall be
his kind,5 the beast6 and moving animated3 by the Affections of love4
thing,7 and the wild animal8 of the from the new will, in general and in
earth after his kind5: and it was so.9 particular,5 in lowest,6 higher 7 and
highest8 degrees: all which,
accordingly, comes to pass9--and,
firstly, as to the Understanding.
25. And God1 made2 the wild animal3 25. The Lord1 now perfect2 the
of the earth4 after his kind,7 highest3 affections, of the external4
and the beast5 after his kind,7 man, and its lower5 and lowest6
and everything that creepeth9 upon affections, all in their own
the earth after his kind7; and God spiritual order7 and connection
saw9 that it was good.10 --here, as to the Will; all which,
Divine Truth8 reveals9 as being of the
fully regenerated, shall govern and
direct7 all the knowledges8 in the
memory9 of the external man, all the
thoughts10 of the understanding,11 and
all the affections,12 in their due
order and subordination, and indeed
over the whole external man13 itself,
and everything constituent14 of it-
and, firstly, as to the Understanding.
* This is in allusion to the doctrine, so clearly intimated in the Epistle to the Hebrews (i. 14)--" re they [the angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"--that the Lord utilizes the ministry of angels in the Regeneration and salvation of man, to assist him in his conflict against the evil spirits, also present with him, who, by inflowing into his evil propensities of all kinds, stir them into activity, and thus bring him into temptation-as well as in other ways. "Whilst man is unregenerate, he is governed [from the spiritual world] in a manner altogether different from what takes place after regeneration. Whilst he is unregenerate, evil spirits are with him, ruling over him in such a manner that the angels, notwithstanding they are present, can scarcely do more than restrain him from plunging himself into the lowest depths of mischief, and incline him to some sort of good. In this state, he has communication, by means of his associate [good] spirits, with the World of Spirits; but he has not the like communication with Heaven, because evil spirits have dominion over him, and the angels only avert their influences. When, however, he becomes regenerate, then the angels have the dominion, and inspire him with whatever is good and true, at the same time infusing a dread and fear of what is evil and false. As this dominion is effected by means of the ministry of angels, it is, in Gen. i. 26, first said, in the Plural, Let US make man in OUR image; but, as the Lord alone governs and disposes [though by means of angels], in the following verse it is added, in the singular, GOD created [singular number] man in HIS image" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 50).
makes man fully Spiritual,3 as
regards both Faith4 and Love,5 and as
to both Understandings and Will.7
28. And God blessed2 them1; and God 28. This now fully-regenerated Will
said3 unto them, Be fruitful,4 and Understanding1 have from
and multiply, and replenish7 the the Lord,2 as the law and order3
earth8 and subdue3 it: and have of their state, the faculty of
dominion9 over the fish 10 of the perpetual fructification of good4
sea,11 and over the fowl12 of the and multiplication of truths,5
air,13 and over every14 living15 whence the external6 abounds7 with
thing that moveth upon the earth.16 these and is kept in due
subordination8 thereby; they
governing9 and directing the
knowledge,10 in its memory,11 the
thoughts12 of its understanding,13 and
in general14 everything truly
spiritual's constituent of it.15
29. And God said,1 Behold, I give 29. It is also of the order1 of the
you2 every herb3 bearing seed which fully-regenerated Spiritual mind,
is upon the face of all the earth,4 that it is sustained2 by every truth
in the which is the fruit5 of a that looks to use3 in the outward
tree6 yielding seed7: to you it every good5 of Faith6; life,4 and
shall be for meat.8 which are the appropriate food8 of the
Spiritual 7 mind;
from the Lord,7 shall be sustained
by external truth that looks to
obedience,3 which is their appropriate
spiritual food:9 all which order is
accepted10 by the regenerated
31. And God1 saw2 everything3 that He 31. The Divine Truth1 directed upon2
had made,4 and behold it was very5 the completed3 work of Spiritual
good.6 And the evening7 and the regeneration,4 exhibits it as
morning8 were the sixth10 day.9 altogether5 from the Lord6
alone. This, advance, also, proceeds
from its obscurity and feebleness7 to
its brightness and power8 and
constitutes the Sixth state,9 which is
the Spiritual10 Man.
Thus, "the times and states of man's Regeneration in each and all things, are divided into six, and are called days of his 'creation'; for, by degrees, from not-Man at all, he becomes first somewhat, but little, of Man, and afterwards more and more even to the sixth day, when he becomes an Image of God. During this progress, the Lord fights continually for him against evils and falsities, and by means of the combats establishes him in truth and good. The time of combat is the time of the Lord's 'work,' for which reason a regenerated person is called in the Prophets the 'work of the fingers of God' nor does He 'rest' until Love takes the lead. Then combat ceases. When the work has so far progressed that Faith is conjoined with Love, it is then called very good, because the Lord then leads man as His 'likeness.'
"This, then, is the Internal Sense of the Word,-its very essential life, which does not at all appear from the sense of the Letter; but the arcana contained are so numerous, that volumes would not suffice for their full unfolding. Here only a few things are mentioned, and indeed such things as serve to prove that Regeneration is here treated of, and that it advances from the external man as the start, to the internal as the goal. It is thus that the angels perceive the Word" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 62-64).
THE ACCOUNT OF CREATION IN GEN. ii.
"The heavens and the earth, and all the host of them' [Gen. ii.; I] are said to be ` finished' when man completes the sixth day; for then Faith and Love make one, and when these make one, not Faith but Love, that is not the Spiritual but the Celestial, begins to take the lead, that is, man begins to be Celestial" (ibid., 84). The process of the development, even to full fruition, of that "Celestial" state, thus initiated, is the theme; in the Internal Sense, of the and chapter of Genesis, from the 4th to the 17th verses; concerned in the Letter with the second, or so-called "Jehovist" account of the Creation.
It has been noted, in passing, that, in the "Spiritual" stage of Regeneration, the person undergoing it acts from Divine Truth throughout.
Because, moreover, the start, in every step of this "Celestial" and crowning stage of Regeneration, treated of in the Internal Sense of chapter ii, is from Good and no longer from Truth, the order is in many respects different; and it is this difference of the order of Regeneration in the Celestial stage, unfolded in the Internal sense of chapter ii, as compared with that of the Spiritual stage, unfolded in the Internal Sense of chapter i, that--occasions and accounts for all the differences in the order of Creation presented in the literal sense of the two chapters.
So viewed, these differences and apparent inconsistencies, so far from militating against the Divinity and Divine Authorship of this portion of the Word of God, tend powerfully to establish them.
Herein lies the clue to the problem of the "Elohist" and "Jehovist" elements of the Word, upon which, through ignorance of the Spiritual Sense, allied to a rationalistic and naturalistic repugnance to the very idea of Divine Revelation, Modern Biblical Criticism has built up its "documentary hypothesis"--for which, be it well noted, there is not one shred of external evidence--with all its fantastic and inherently incredible theories, which it calls upon us to accept in place of the plain, simple testimony of the Scriptures themselves.
It is one of the outstanding merits of the Spiritual Sense of the Word which we are endeavoring to present to our readers, that it furnishes a satisfactory and rational solution of the real problems that underlie the "Higher" Criticism, and thus affords a refuge from a device the only ultimate issue of which is to rob mankind of any real Word of God.
But the fuller exhibition of this feature of the doctrine of the Internal Sense of the Word, must be postponed to a subsequent chapter.
THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT
CHAPTER 13. CORRESPONDENCES AND REPRESENTATIVES
CHAPTER 14. THE ISRAELITISH OR JEWISH ELEMENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES
THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE "LETTER" AND THE SPIRIT"
13.--"Correspondences" and Representatives."
IN the preceding chapter, we have placed before the reader, in a concise form, a statement of the Spiritual Sense of the 1st chapter of Genesis, as given in the series of works in which the Spiritual Sense of the Word has been made known, side by side with the Literal Sense of that chapter; and the reader is thus in a position to compare them at a glance. He may read the whole Spiritual Sense consecutively, from the beginning to the end, just as he has been in the habit, all his life, of reading the Literal Sense; and, if he does so, he will find that it contains rationally coherent instruction on a subject--Regeneration (by which man is, and by which alone he can be, prepared for heaven, John iii. 3)--on which it is, manifestly, of vital consequence to him, as an immortal being, to be informed.
But the question will arise, "How comes this so-called 'Spiritual Sense,' and this undoubtedly spiritual instruction, which commends itself to my mind as valuable and probably true, to be the Spiritual, or Inner Sense, of that Literal Sense about the creation of the external universe? On the one hand, there is a definite literal meaning, dependent on and resulting from the dictionary and grammatical sense of the words used: on the other hand, is a 'sense,' equally definite, certainly, the excellence and value of which I fully grant, and which is declared to be the spiritual meaning of these literal statements, whose literal meaning is so entirely different. But how am I to know that the latter is 'the spiritual meaning' of the former? How can I tell that something else is not the proper spiritual meaning of this part of the Letter, and that this is not the proper spiritual meaning of some other part of the Letter-or, indeed, that this is the spiritual meaning of any part of the Letter, and not merely an independent statement unconnected with anything in the Letter of the Word at all?"
It is at once evident that these questions are of the most vital importance, and imperatively must be answered. We may put the situation in a different light by considering the Literal sense, or outer form, as a casket; said to contain jewels; and the inner meaning as the "jewels" the casket is said to contain, and to exist for the sake of containing.
(1) We reached the sure conclusion, several chapters back, that, in the nature of the case, only the Lord Himself '1 is competent to know, certainly, what the Spiritual Sense of His Word is, and consequently to make it known. We perceive, now, that; not only is a revelation of the Spiritual Sense itself needed, but also something else--a revelation of the nexus, or connecting link, between the literal and spiritual senses--by which men may be enabled to see, as it were with their own eyes, that the Spiritual Sense postulated is the Spiritual Sense of the part of the Letter to which it is assigned.
This also has been done! Side by side with the Spiritual Sense revealed, and constituting part of the revelation, has also been given the law of the connection between the Spiritual Sense and the natural.
The name of this law is "Correspondence"; given, because that (as shown in Chapter 8)1 is the nature of the relation that exists between the inner and outer senses of the Divine Word. The Spiritual Sense "corresponds" to the natural, and the natural to the Spiritual, just as accurately, certainly and necessarily as the reflection of an object in a faithful mirror corresponds to the object itself before the mirror. just as certainly; but NOT in the same manner. The manner, or mode, of the "correspondence," here, is seen in the light of the Lord's saying, so often called in evidence about the nature of His Word: "The FLESH [or BODY] profiteth nothing: it is the Spirit that quickeneth: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they, are life." It is a correspondence such as exists between the "spirit," or soul, or mind, and the "flesh," or body, of a living man. Not only is there a soul and a body to every expression of the Divine Word--it is of the separate "words" of it that the declaration is specifically made--but their "soul" and "body" are related to one another as are the soul and body of a man. And this is our clue. In both, it is the "soul" that causes the "body" to live: and, equally, it is, the spiritual element, or "soul," that is signified by the natural element, or "body." For it must be constantly borne in mind that the error of the Jews--of the Lord's reproof and correction of which the dictum before us is the final word--was that of taking certain wards of His in a natural sense instead of a spiritual, or literally instead of spiritually.
1 See pp. 125-130, above.
Turning, then, to the relation existing between the soul and the body, for enlightenment as to the nature of the precise point here, we find it typified (as seen in the former analysis, just referred to) in the face, the manifest bodily "index of the mind"; in which the spirit exhibits itself and its passing states, every moment of waking life. Seeing a frown on the face, we infer the "affection" of annoyance, or some other form of pain in the mind, or spirit; seeing a sneer, we infer the "affection" of contempt accompanied by irritation, or dislike; seeing a genial smile, we infer the "affection" of geniality; seeing a dull, expressionless eye while we are giving some explanation, we infer the uncomprehending or uninterested mind; noting the sudden flash of light in the eye as we continue our explanation, we infer the awakening of interest, or apprehension of our point; and, apart from dissimulation in the person whose countenance we have been observing, we shall have inferred truly in all these cases.
Now, at the risk of repetition--for the point we are trying to make is a highly important one--we raise the question, Why have we inferred these mental or spiritual affections and states from those natural, or bodily, facial expressions?
All this is well known to every one, whether all have so analyzed the phenomenon we are examining as to formulate the fact in definite thought, or not. It does not, perhaps, occur to many to inquire how it comes about, that the passing affections, emotions and states of the mind, an immaterial entity, are able to produce these effects, to thus write and portray themselves, in the face of the body, a material entity?
This is putting the thing in its largest form; in which it does not so clearly appear, if indeed it appears at all. Well, take it in a more limited extent--in the case of the eye, for example.
And, since this is true of a department of the spirit, or mind--for the mind is of the spirit, just as the skin is of the body--in relation to a specific part of the body, how shall we escape the conclusion that it is true of the whole spirit in relation to the whole body--namely, that the body as a whole, and in all its parts, derived its existence, originally, in the processes of birth, or creation, from the spirit as a whole and all its parts? How, indeed, should it be true of any one part, except because it is true of the whole? In such things the part does not differ from the whole: on the contrary, it owes its characteristics to the whole of which it is a part.
We know, moreover, that the body subsists, or continues in existence, from the spirit or soul. Of this truth, immediate death and subsequent decomposition and ultimate resolution of the body into its natural elements, on the separation of the soul, or spirit, from it, is the final and undeniable proof. And, in view of this fact, as of all the facts we have here passed in review, unless the known relations between the spirit and the body are simply an elaborate series of mere coincidences, whether accidental or designed--a conclusion from which rational thought promptly revolts, and which no sensible person would for a moment maintain--there is no escaping the conclusion that this marvelous correspondential relation, all along the line, from1 beginning to end of their co-existence, between the soul and the body, arises from, and proves, an original causal relation between them, by which the soul, or spirit, is the proximate cause in the hands of the Creator, by which He creates the body in a word, in this secondary sense, that
"Soul is Form and cloth the Body make."
This, then, is the true relation of soul or "spirit," and body or "flesh"--a relation of which the appropriate name is "correspondence," which, traced back to origins, is the relation of "cause" and "effect"; and it is, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, the relation that exists between the natural and spiritual senses of His "words"--and hence of His Word as a whole--in His clearly implied comparison of them to a living man consisting of "spirit," or soul, and "flesh," or body.
This, in relation to the Word, is a highly illuminating truth. It exhibits--as we have shown earlier, and hope to illustrate later--the "Letter" as an, as it were, organic creation, resulting from, and produced by, the "Spirit," and, therefore, standing in a relation of perfect and detailed "correspondence" with it. It is, consequently, no arbitrary or artificial relation, but an altogether inevitable and natural one.
(2) But can we stop here?--that is to say, at the conclusion that the spirit and the body of a man stand in the creative relation of producing "cause" and, produced "effect"? Is not the whole question of Creation at large involved in it?
The real "riddle of the universe," is, how Spirit produces its effects on matter--what the vital relation between them is. In the case of the mind and body of living human beings, we have a case in point, which comes home to the experience and consciousness of every man and woman, and which, when carried to its logical conclusion, exhibits the spiritual soul and the material body as standing in the creative relation of cause and effect. The question is, Does not the essential logic of things carry us even farther than this? Have we not, in the case of the human spirit and body, the type of the essential relation between Spirit and Matter, or the Spiritual and the Material, according to which the Spiritual is universally Cause and the Material universally Effect, and, ultimately, of the relation between God the Creator, the Infinite Spirit, on the one hand, and the universal Creation, spiritual and material, on the other? We admit that this conclusion seems to us irresistible; and we have a large confidence that the more the situation is rationally, and without prejudice, pondered, the more it will commend itself to the reader also.
Whither, now, does this manifestly important, as well as exceedingly wide, induction, carry us, as regards the work of Creation as a whole?
And, as regards universal Creation, including both spiritual and material, our induction brings us to the position that this, in its turn, in the immeasurable whole and in every least detail, is related to the Creator as Effect to Cause, and that the creation, in whole and in part, "corresponds" to the Creator, or to some one or other of the Infinite things which constitute Him. Carried into particulars, this again resolves itself into the position that- every object in nature is the reduction to, and expression in, terms of matter, of some specific Affection of the Divine Love, which is the Divine "end" of its Creation, and some specific Perception of the Divine Wisdom, which is the Divine or Primary "Cause," by which its existence, was brought about; and that every such object "corresponds" to the specific Affection and Perception, in the Divine Mind, from which, in the Divine processes of Creation, it originally came forth. Looked at from the Divine or Creative standpoint, therefore, every object in nature, ultimately, essentially and vitally, signifies not itself but the Divine Affection and Perception in which it had Origin, and of which it is the lowest correspondent expression. In other words, that Divine Affection and Perception are the final or Divine meaning, of any particular material object that may be in question.
The same course of reasoning, carrying with it like conclusions, applies in the case of all natural Processes and essential relations existing among material objects: they, likewise, all originate in, correspond to, and signify some relation, or mode of action, existing among the Infinite Divine things which constitute the Mind of God; which Infinite Divine things are, behind, and beyond, and above all things else, their real, essential and final meaning, in the universe.
It is a revealed truth, moreover, that Man was created in the "image of God": a truth involving that man is, in all his faculties, powers and qualities, a finite reflection-either true or distorted-of the Infinite Mind of God. From this it results that the objects which primarily correspond to and signify the Affections and Perceptions of the Divine Mind, secondarily and reflexively correspond to and signify the finite affections and perceptions, derived from the Divine, that exist in and constitute the human mind.
It is evident, therefore, that the external world of nature, prior to the introduction of disorder and evil into it by man's perversity, would have been, to, any one able to inter ret these "correspondences" aright, a transcendent "revelation" of the Nature and Qualities of God, of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom in their Infinite Affections and Perceptions, and of the relations and processes of Divine Order in things spiritual, and, derivatively, of the nature and qualities, the order, relations and processes, of the spirit of man-in short, a theatre representative of the Lord and His Kingdom. All that would have been necessary, is-the ability to read the face of Nature aright, that is to say, according to its "correspondence" with its Divine Creator! The point at which we have arrived, then, may be summarized thus:
1. There is, as a matter of fact, a plenary "correspondence" between the things of a man's spirit and those of his body, in the total and in detail; and this is from Creation.
2. There is, by the necessary law of creation, a correspondence between the things of outward nature, on the one hand, and the things of the Spirit or Mind of God and the things of the spirit or mind of man, on the other.
3. These things of the Spirit or Mind of God, necessarily are the real significance and final meaning, in the universe, of the objects of created Nature.
All this being the case, would it be unnatural or artificial, in communicating with man by means of a written revelation, for God, in mentioning the objects of the outward creation, to mean by them, the Divine things in Himself of which they are the last and lowest, i. e. the material, forms--and the answering spiritual things in man-in such a way, that, to man in the world, the subject of the communication should appear to be the things themselves as they stand forth in the world, while, to God Himself, the subject should be the Divine and spiritual things to which the natural things, by the law of their creation, "correspond"?
This is what the doctrine we are endeavoring to expound in these pages claims has been done in the Word of God, and is involved in the numerous express and implied teachings of the Scriptures themselves that they are Divine Parable, and, as such, contain an. inner sense which is actually their real, because Divine, meaning. Rational induction, therefore, concurs with Scripture; authority in affirming this, as both the necessary and the actual character of the Word of the Lord; and that the relation between its Spirit and its Letter is the relation of "correspondence," which is the relation of true Cause and Effect, according to which all Creation takes place.1
1 For a masterly presentation of the whole subject of Correspondences, see the Rev. W. A. Presland's Correspondence the Key to Causation and Revelation, procurable from the publishers of the present work.
(3)It was observed, a little above, that any person able to interpret aright the "correspondences" of which the universal Creation consists, would have found in the external world of nature, prior to the introduction of disorder and evil into it by man's perversity and sin, a perfect revelation of the Nature and Qualities of the Mind of God and--reflexively--of those of the mind of man also. It' is worth while asking, What must have been the situation of the earliest race of human beings in this regard?
It is rationally inconceivable and unbelievable that, when the human soul, spirit and mind were fresh from the Divine Hand of the Creator, as with absolutely the first human beings--whether they were a single pair on one spot of the earth's surface, or a thousand pairs in as many different centers--was certainly the case, there was anything of actual evil in it. The law of cause and effect which, we have been learning, is the universal law of Creation, absolutely negatives the possibility of such a thing. In its "cause"--the Divine Creator--there is no evil; and as there can be nothing in the effect that is not in the cause, either actually or potentially, there could not have been any evil in the human soul, with our first ancestors.
With successive generations, carrying with them an intellectual and spiritual development which the conditions furnished by the innocent and translucent state of the human spirit must have made more rapid than we can at all conceive, a higher and higher degree of regeneration became more and more general; and at length with a proportion of the race, it became the rule for that process to reach the highest degree of all--the Celestial. The resulting spiritual conditions thus established among men, formed the Most Ancient, or the earliest, Church of this planet; and it was a "Celestial" Church. The state of the spirits of all such as, by individual regeneration, became of this Celestial Church, was now such that every upward-looking window, so to speak, in every degree of their minds--natural, spiritual and celestial--was wide open to the light of heaven, and there was a perfectly free passage for the influx and reception of all Divine gifts from God, through the highest and lower degrees of their minds, in order, even to the lowest-in which, as with us now, their natural consciousness was experienced; and they were thence in the enjoyment of the peculiar and distinguishing gift of that people-Perception.
This "perception," the inevitable result of the then existing spiritual conditions, consisted in the men of this Most Ancient Church seeing eye to eye with God in all things, spiritual, celestial and Divine, to a degree; never approached in subsequent times, and never attained, even among that people, until Regeneration had opened all the degrees of their spirits, right to the highest, to heaven and God.
So truly heavenly-minded, moreover, were these "Celestial" men of the Most Ancient Church, as long as this remained in its integrity, that not only could and did they perceive the "correspondence" of all the objects that greeted their bodily senses, but, when any of their senses made them cognizant of an object, their thought went, instantly and spontaneously, NOT to the object BUT to the spiritual and Divine thing to which the object corresponded! Outward nature was to them merely a means of thinking about the Divine Perfections and their own spiritual and heavenly possibilities, and thus constituted for them an ever active stimulus to spiritual effort and progress.
It is, indeed, from the Spiritual Sense of the Divine Word that all these things have come to light. As stated earlier, the account of "creation" given in the 2nd chapter of Genesis, treats in the Internal Sense of the process by which, in men already regenerated as to the Spiritual degree of their minds, and become Spiritual men, the work of Regeneration is carried to the Celestial degree, so that they may become Celestial men. And the Celestial man, individually and collectively--in which latter point of view man is called a "Church"--of the Most Ancient times, is signified by Adam whom "Jehovah God formed of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives" (Gen. ii. 7); the wonderful intelligence of that Church in Divine and heavenly things, of which we have caught some faint glimpses, is signified by "the garden of Eden," in which "Adam," when "formed"--that is, Celestially regenerated-was placed by Jehovah God; and "the trees of the garden" are the marvelous "perceptions" to which we have also adverted.
The garden of Eden was not, therefore, a geographical locality in the outer world, in which God placed the first individual human being as to his body: it was the state of heavenly intelligence to which God brought the earliest generations of mankind as to their spirits, by the processes of Regeneration, carried to the highest point, which constituted them a Celestial Church.
Of course, these men of the Most Ancient Church were in some region of the outer world: the point is, that their physical, or local, habitation is not what is meant by the Garden of Eden, but their spiritual or celestial state. Their local habitation, however, is made known to us in the revelation of the Spiritual Sense of the Word given in the Writings of Swedenborg. It was, we are taught, the land of Canaan that was the home, country, or territory of the Church, from its very first dispensation in the world, as we know it was later.
(4) Now, observe the necessary consequence on any land of its being inhabited by a people endowed, as to this wonderful faculty of "perception," as were the men of the Most Ancient Church. "Whatsoever things they saw or in any way perceived by their senses, were to them representative of the spiritual and celestial thin of the Lord's Kingdom; so that they saw, indeed, the worldly and terrestrial things with their eyes, or perceived them by their other senses, but, from them and by means of them, they thought of celestial and spiritual things.
1 A noteworthy instance of this, is that of the town and neighborhood of DAN. This place was so named, we are told, by the men of the Israelitish tribe of Dan, in the time of Joshua, after the patriarch of their tribe (Josh. xix. 47), and even again in the following generation (see Judges xviii. 29), and had been known as Leshern (Josh. xix.) and Laish (Judges xviii.)--two forms of the same name-previously. Nevertheless, it is mentioned by the name "Dan," in Gen. xviii. The critics infer, from these facts, that the book of Genesis must have been written after the time of Joshua, and consequently not by Moses. But the circumstances mentioned above, point to another conclusion: the conclusion, namely, that the naming, in the periods of Joshua and the judges, was a restoration, under a Divine influence and leading (of which, of course, the men immediately concerned were totally unaware), of the "representative" name which the place had originally received from the men of the Most Ancient Church; which it still bore in the days of Abram, and which was preserved in the traditions of Abram's life that had come down to Moses, and were utilized by the Lord for the purposes of the Spiritual Sense of the Word, in the Divine Inspiration under which Moses wrote the Pentateuch; but which had been subsequently lost, or displaced, during the centuries in the course of which the land passed into the possession of the idolatrous Canaanitish nations. Certain it is, that, in all the passages where the name is used the spiritual significance of it is the same: viz., the acknowledgment of the Lord and of Divine Truth, which is the beginning of the Church, or the entrance to the Lord's Kingdom, as the geographical "Dan" was the entrance to the land of Canaan on the North, and also, from the land of the Philistines, on the Southwest.
(5) After the introduction of evil, signified in detail by the temptation and fall of man, and his consequent expulsion from Eden, in succeeding generations of the Most Ancient Church, the "perception" characteristic of that Church while still in its integrity, became successively dimmed, until, at the consummation of the Adamic age, or dispensation--or, what is the same thing, of the Most Ancient Church--it was utterly and finally lost. A knowledge--as distinguished from "perception"-of a residuum of the truths, representatives and correspondences possessed by the men of the Most Ancient Church, had, however, been preserved by tradition for the use of the men of the new, or "Ancient," or "Noatic" Church with which God made his new "Covenant," or established a new "dispensation"; and was reduced, we are informed, to a written form, which constituted the beginnings of the "Ancient Word," of which we have already learned something in a former chapter.1
1 Chapter 2, pp. 35-42, above.
1 The book of job is a book of this character, coming down, we are informed, from the men of the Ancient Church--not a Book of the Ancient "Word": that is a different thing altogether. It is, consequently, full of "correspondences," though it does not contain a continuous Spiritual Sense, treating of the Lord and His Kingdom.
They loved, also, to surround themselves in their homes, and particularly in their houses and outdoor places of worship, with objects corresponding to, and "representing" the spiritual excellences they considered it specially important to cultivate, and therefore to keep before their minds, in their daily lives and in their exercises of Divine worship.
1 Striking evidence of this is afforded by the book of job, a book, as stated above, of the Ancient Church, the theme of which is a prolonged and interior temptation, and in which God is mentioned by the name "Shaddai" (rendered in our English Bibles, "Almighty") no fewer than thirty-one times.
This takes cognizance only of Divine names used in our Scriptures; but the numberless "gods" of the various heathen mythologies had the same origin, and were, in the first instance, nothing else than particular Divine attributes of the One and Only God significatively personified.
This "Ancient Church" also, in the beginning, had its seat in the land of Canaan; though it later, and especially after it began to fall away from its first high spiritual estate, spread into the surrounding lands, and indeed, in process of time, into countries exceedingly remote.
2 Chap. 2, pp. 35-42.
1 i. e. Gen. i. to vii. See Chap. 2, p. 42.
2 See Chap. 2, p. 33, above.
That this Church also, in course of time, fell away, sinking eventually into a practically universal idolatry and moral corruption, is manifest from all that is related of the descendants of Noah, in their successive generations, in the Book of Genesis, and in subsequent Israelitish history.
1 For the discussion of which point, see above, in the present chapter, pp. 225-6.
(6) When this time arrived, in the passing of the generations, many things happened;. all of which, however, may be summed up in the single statement, that everything of religious importance and observance among them was naturalized, sensualized--in one word, literalized. Thus, when the men of those degenerate days, found in use in their sacred books a plurality of Divine names--"Jehovah," "God," "Shaddai," "Pachad"2 and others--instead of understanding them as designations of the One and Only God in respect of different specific Divine Attributes, as their forefathers who knew Correspondences had done, they took them for the names of so many different gods, which they worshipped accordingly: and hence arose POLYTHEISM.
2 Gen. xxxi. 53. The word above is the Hebrew. It is translated "Fear," with a capital "F," in the R Revised Version, to indicate that it is a proper name.
When, again, they found the various representatives and images-some of natural objects, some combining parts of different natural objects into a single composite form1 never met with in nature--which preceding generations conversant with "Correspondences" delighted to have about them, in their homes, and particularly on the hills and in the groves and houses in which they celebrated worship2--this degenerate posterity took these images and objects, because they were in places consecrated by usage to the purpose of worship, for objects of worship and adored them as such: and hence arose IDOLATRY.
1 As, for example, the body of a bull with the head of a man and the wings of an eagle in the Assyrian bull, and again, the head, trunk and arms of a man, with the tail of a fish, in the Philistine idol, Dagon. This is also the origin of the Dragon of ancient myth, a gigantic serpent with legs and wings.
2 As shown, and their reason for so doing given, in an earlier part of this chapter, p. 234.
When, once more, they read, in the portions of their Word answering to our Gen. iv. 3, 4, and viii. 20, 21, as well as in others of their religious (though uninspired) books, of cereals and animals being offered to God and burned on an altar as an act of worship, instead of understanding, as their enlightened predecessors had understood, that the spiritual graces to which "the fruit of the ground," and the animals concerned, "corresponded," were to be ascribed to God and acknowledged, because His gifts to them, as perpetually belonging, of right, to Hint-instead of understanding this, they imagined that the literal things mentioned were (and were to be) literally presented and literally burned on a literal altar, and that those acts constituted Divine worship! And hence arose SACRIFICIAL WORSHIP.
Here, then, we have the solution of the problem, left over for future discussion in an earlier part of this work,1--how such a religion, or such forms of worship, as marked the Israelitish dispensation, ever came to be in existence at all. It is, now, a well-known historical fact, that these worship forms did not originate with the Israelitish dispensation, but were taken over-subject, however, to various stringent modifications, which were new-under the express direction of Jehovah, from the one it superseded. These, truly, were supplemented by others, notably the architecture and appointments of the tabernacle and the laws regulating the priesthood, "the patterns of things in the heavens," that were revealed to Moses by Jehovah on Mount Sinai; 2 but the latter were, in their own nature, no more spiritual, no more "heavenly things themselves" (see Heb. Viii. 4-5; ix. 23), than were those that were taken over.
1 Chap. 7, above, see p. i 18.
2 Exod. xxv. 9, 4o; xxvi, 30; xxvii. 8; Num. viii. 4.
1 Chap. 7, pp. ioq-117, which might be profitably re-read in this place.
14.--The Israelitish or Jewish Element in the Old Testament Scriptures.
SUCH, then-namely, as depicted in the concluding portion of our last chapter--was the condition in relation to spiritual things into which the entire human race had fallen at the time the Israelitish people appear upon the 'scene of history. Even the immediate family of Abraham, their great ancestor, were idolaters in their, native country. Abraham himself, when in Canaan, and Isaac, and Jacob (as shown in a previous chapter), did not relax all hold on their ancestral god, Shaddai--we find Jacob invoking him in the course of his dying prophecy, in Egypt1;--while their descendants, during their long sojourn in the last-named country, lost all knowledge of the true God, and became wholly given up to Egyptian idolatry, and remained incorrigibly addicted to the worship of the calf, throughout their subsequent history, until the great Exile.2
1 Gen. xlix. 25.
2 All of which is shown at large in Chap. 7 above, see pp. 113-115.
This people God took in hand, at this juncture, for a purpose that runs manifestly through the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments, and largely constitutes their (considering the circumstances of the giving of its different parts) truly marvelous unity--the purpose of restoring, by their means, THE HUMAN RACE, at that time fallen so low, to a true spiritual religion, in which the One True God revealed in those Scriptures, should be the only Object of human worship, and in which He should be worshipped in a truly spiritual manner, that is, by the cultivation, in men's daily lives, of spiritual qualities and excellences, taught them in a written Revelation which He Himself would give them when they were "able to bear" it, and of love to God and man as the inspiration and mainspring of conduct. And the first thing, manifestly, was to lead that people themselves some few steps--as many as their willingness to learn would admit of-in the direction of the end in view.
A religion and a worship, therefore, of some sort, they must have: the highest, of course, of which they were, in their state of utter spiritual devastation (in no wise superior to that of the nations around them) capable; but a religion and a worship, in any case. The human world of the time was strewn, as we have seen, with the wreckage of a "representative" religion, once genuinely spiritual, and effective of communication with heaven. The immediately practicable and possible step, in the conditions, manifestly was to purge the existing forms of worship from their most serious corruptions, and sever the worship itself unconditionally from idolatry and polytheism, by limiting it absolutely to the True God Himself.
1 Chap. 7, pp. 115-118.
1 As, for example, in the case of Uzzah's being miraculously slain for touching the ark to steady it (2 Sam. vi. 6-8).
It must have occurred to every reflecting and believing student of the Old Testament Scriptures, that such a peculiarity as that land, rather than any other, being the one chosen for the inheritance of the people among whom Jehovah was setting up this new and peculiar religious dispensation, must have had some special and mysterious reason at the back of it. This reason we are now to understand.
We have learned above, in the former chapter, that Canaan had been, from the earliest times, preeminently the land of the Church. This circumstance alone, however, would not, evidently, explain its being chosen; inasmuch as, in the subsequent, Christian dispensation, it was not chosen.
But we have also learned that that land--in consequence of the peculiar genius of the men of the "Most Ancient Church," the resultant perception enjoyed by them of the "correspondences" of all things in external Nature with the things of the Spirit of God and the things of the spirit of man, and their practice of giving "correspondential" names to their surroundings, including all the places (mountains, plains, hills, valleys, rivers, streams, towns, villages, landmarks, boundaries, and the rest) in the land in which they dwelt;
1 Thus, with the men of both those Ancient dispensations, the land of Canaan as a whole "represented" the Church; every place within the land, something constituent of the Church, and every place outside it, something not of the Church, but yet related to it, by either approximation, or affinity; or antagonism, according to its "correspondence." Through the Ancient Word, in which they were incorporated, these place-names, as pointed out above (p. 223) were continued into our Word,--where, for example, that "Canaan" signifies the Lord's Church, is a commonplace with all Christians.
But, in reality, an even more fundamental and vital issue than any of those we have yet glanced at, was at stake--the very existence of the human race. The exceedingly important place occupied by the Church in the spiritual economy of the world, is a subject to which even approximate justice has but rarely been done. This place is that of a link connecting mankind on earth, with heaven, and through heaven, with God. And it provides this connection, by virtue of its use of keeping something genuinely Divine and spiritual among men, by its doctrinal teachings and its observances of worship.
The importance of this use lies in the fact that neither the individual man, nor consequently the race-man, has any Life which is its own. In the whole universe, there is only One who has Life in Himself, just as there is only One who is "Good"1 in Himself, and that is God. Created beings, including both then, spirits and angels, have only a derived life: derived from Him who is Life; and this, not, as is often imagined, by His imparting it--in the sense of parting with it--to them, at their creation, or birth, so that from that time on it is no longer His but heirs, but by His supplying them with it continually.
1 Matt. xix. 17.
It follows, of course, that disconnection from any transmitter of the supply--whether of the electric current from the power station, or of Life from God--would be attended by the same effect as though the supply came immediately from the original source.
But God Himself, the Source of Life, dwells far above all heavens, and man in the world far below all heavens. Heaven and the whole spiritual world come between; and the ever forth-flowing Life from God must pass through all the planes of the spiritual world in order to reach men. Now, the spiritual world consists of Heaven and Hell and an intermediate region which is the dwelling-place of men who have passed away from this world by death but are not yet fully prepared to take their place in either of the Final Abodes which constitute the other departments of that world. This intermediate region is called the "World of Spirits," to distinguish it from Heaven, on the one hand, which is the World of Angels, and from Hell, on the other, which is the World of Infernals, or Devils and Satans; and the spirits who are sojourning in it are inwardly affiliated to Heaven or to Hell according as they are internally good or evil.
All the influences that reach men by way of Heaven, minister to and promote health and life, equally of body and of soul. All influences, on the other hand, that reach men by way of Hell, bear in their bosom disease and death, equally, in like manner, of body and of soul; to such an extent that all bodily and spiritual disease, and all disease-produced death--which is a slaying, and a widely different thing from the natural, beneficent dying, or mere change of worlds, which is the true order of creation--even in the natural world, have originated in Hell and are derived from it even here. Even the Divine Life Itself, by passing to man through Hell contracts a disease-bearing and death-bearing quality from the channel through which it flows. If the time were ever to come, therefore, when the Divine Life, on the continual supply of which in a state of at least approximate purity, man's very natural existence depends, should reach mankind only by way of HELL, the extinction of the human race would be only a matter of time. The maintenance, therefore, of a vital connection of mankind at large with HEAVEN, is a condition on which depends not merely its spiritual well-being but its very existence. Man can only, however, continue in connection with Heaven, by the preservation in him, or with him, of something heavenly. And this, as pointed out above, is the very use for the sake of which the Church exists.
It is really because of this essential use subserved by the Church, and by no other instrumentality whatever, that, in the Divine Providence, there has always been a Church in the world, from the earliest infancy of the race right on to this day. Churches, that is, religious dispensations, or eras, have, it is true, come and gone, as indeed we have been learning in these chapters, if we did not know it before; but it has always been the case, that, as soon as one had corrupted its way upon the earth, and thus become no longer of use for keeping what is Divine among men, it has been brought to an end, and another Church, or dispensation, raised up in its stead. Thus, the Most Ancient Church at its consummation was succeeded by the Ancient, the Ancient by the Jewish and the Jewish by the Christian. A Church, or something of the Church, possessing some measure of purity and integrity, there ever must be, under pain of the severance of all connection, with Heaven, and the consequent extinction of the human race.
What the state of things in relation to the Church was, at the time of the institution of the Jewish dispensation, we have already seen. If there was still even one link, anywhere, connecting man with Heaven, it must have been the very last, and imminently near the breaking point. Any Church capable of serving the purpose of keeping what is Divine and spiritual amongst men, there clearly was not--not so much, of such a Church, as "one stone left upon another that was not thrown down" (Matt. xxiv. 2) and buried deep under unspeakable abominations in every sphere of life.
1 See, once more, Chap. 7, above, pp. 109-111.
A genuine "Church," therefore, was not possible; but a genuine "REPRESENTATIVE OF A CHURCH," involving in the spiritual significance, or "representative values" of its rites and ceremonies, really spiritual goods and truths, which supplied a connecting link with good spirits and angels who were in "the heavenly things themselves" which those rites and ceremonies merely represented--in a word, a connecting link with Heaven--was possible; and indeed, as we have seen, some of the materials of such a "Representative of a Church" were actually at hand. By purging them from all corrupt accretions; by dissociating them from polytheism and idolatry;
But, an indispensable condition to the efficiency of this "Representative of a Church," as a means of, as it were, artificially, or "miraculously," preserving a connection with Heaven for mankind, was, that the "representatives" of which it consisted should be maintained intact and observed inviolate.
Now, the Canaanitish nations constituted (as is plain from all that is recorded of them in the Scriptures), by reason of their corruptions and abominations--to use the ever-recurring Scripture expression--as regards modes of worship, and still more by reason of the false gods and idols they adored, a constant and serious menace to the preservation of the integrity of the Israelitish worship and to the exclusive allegiance to Jehovah of that people--especially, in view of the native proneness of the people in question to these very evils. That danger had, therefore, to be removed; and the only way of effectively removing it was by the extermination of the nations themselves.
With such an issue at stake, no other course was possible. This fact, and the fact that assuredly no eternal harm was done to those nations, or to the individuals composing them, by merely bringing their terrestrial existence to an end, ought to suffice to reconcile even such terrible doings to the reason and spiritual moral sense of every believer in the Divine economy which, according to the Scripture accounts, prevailed at that day; for, to an immortal being, eternal harm or good is the only thing that really matters!
We have here, then--that is, in the whole series of things set forth in this chapter-a solution of the mysterious Jewish problem afforded by the Old Testament Scriptures, as regards both the origin of their peculiar, unspiritual worship, its permitted continuance and Divine regulation and extension among them, and even as regards the destruction of those idolatrous nations whose propinquity constituted a grave menace to the use to the race at large, that the Israelitish dispensation was instituted to serve. And the solution grows naturally out of all the pre-existing conditions, in turn, of the religious history of the human race, back to the very beginning, and is in line with the nature of the Divine Word given among that people--as, like their religion, having spiritual significance within its outer form which made both serviceable not only to that people at that time, but to future generations to which the Internal Sense of the Word should be revealed.
CHAPTER 15. THE NEW EXEGESIS AND THE HIGHER CRITICISM
BOOK VI BIBLICAL CRITICISM
15.--The new Exegesis and the "Higher Criticism."
IN bringing the doctrine that has been advanced in the foregoing pages as to the true character of the Word of God, to bear upon the "Higher" Biblical Criticism, it is of importance that we remind ourselves of what the attitude of the school, of opinion so named, towards the Scriptures, is. We will set out, therefore, with a brief summary statement on this preliminary matter.
The initial point calling for notice is, that, to the "Biblical Critics," neither the specific collection of Books with which we are here concerned, nor any other Books whatsoever, are "the Word of God," in any unsophisticated sense of that expression. Those of the Critics who use the phrase, use it in some sense--best known to themselves-which certainly does not, imply the Divine Authorship of the Books, or Divine Authority, or Divine responsibility, for their contents.
But lest this statement should seem to any a misrepresentation, or at any rate exaggeration, of the view of those concerned, we append an extract from a letter dated; June 13th, 1902, from a clergyman of the United Free Church of Scotland signing himself "K," which appeared in The Glasgow Herald a day or so subsequent to that date. The occasion which called it forth has the delivery of an address by Prof. George Adam Smith at a meeting of young men, in the course; of which he spoke of the Bible as "God's holy Word" and urged his hearers to commit large portions of it to memory for that reason; a proceeding against which, as will be seen, "K" registers an indignant protest:
Professor Smith's speech last night makes confusion worse confounded. It is a speech which no one who holds by the modern methods of Biblical criticism can fail to deplore. What, we ask, does the speaker really mean? It was a speech, not to the fathers and brethren, vindicating his position: it was a voluntary address to young men, and there lay the pity of it. It spoke of "God's holy word," and in the next sentence it urged the memorizing of "the bare text of the English Bible" because, as we found the committing to memory of poetry "outside the Bible" helpful in times of stress, "it was a hundred times more true of that which was within the Bible--inspired by God Himself, and which came to us with the assurance that His grace and His wisdom were upon these words, The Bible is God's word."
We clergy flattered ourselves that we had understood the position of the Professor in his relation to the Old and New Testament Scriptures. But today many of the laity are assured of the so-called orthodoxy of this position; and it will be the endeavor of those who watch and foster "Church interests," to assure the laity that the position is one and the same as that of Chalmers, Candlish, Begg, and Kennedy. Is not Principal Rainy quite satisfied likewise?
But in the interests of theology, and the relation that ought to exist between the teachers and preachers of religion and the laity of this country, it is but right to point out that this is a matter of juggling with words and wheedling with men; and the cause of the simple, plain, direct issue of the matter is set aside-indeed, set back once snore (italics ours).
This, then, is the attitude of the "Higher Criticism" towards the Scriptures; and as this attitude has much to do with the nature of the theories that make up the substance of the "Criticism," on both its destructive and its constructive sides, it is of moment that its true nature should be well and clearly discerned. But the Higher Criticism is really a body of theories as to the genesis of the Books of the Bible in the form in which we now have them.
It will be seen that this statement implies that "the form in which we now have them" is not their original form; and this feature is, fundamental to Modern Biblical Criticism, with every one of its exponents. It is of the essence of this Criticism, that the Scriptures in their present form are not original documents, but composites of documents; compiled, from different sources, at different times, by different compilers, editors and redactors without number; and it is the "problem" of Criticism to determine when, and from what (hypothetical) originals, the component parts--not Books, be it understood, but paragraphs in the same Book, sentences in the same paragraph, and phrases and even single words in the same sentence--were brought together and woven into their present form. And truly wonderful are the hypotheses which have been spun, and have obtained acceptance, with the uncritical, as proved facts, under the style of "assured results," in the effort to solve the problem.
Mankind will, in time, grow out of this childish pre-possession; and then the utter inadequateness of the "evidence" on which the whole structure of the Modern Critical theory rests will be seen, and men will stand amazed at its ever having been tolerated among rational men and women.
It is not our purpose here, however, to give a general account of the Higher Criticism; but simply to put before the reader the solution of the real problems that do undoubtedly underlie its fantastic theories, which is offered by the doctrine of the Spiritual Sense of the Word unfolded in the theological writings of Swedenborg, and show how this solution takes away the ground from under the theories themselves.
Time will not allow of our taking up all the points involved; but we will deal with the most important and familiar of them. These are:--(a) the "Jehovistic" and "Elohistic" features, the noticing of which first led to the formation of the "documentary hypothesis"; (b) other characteristic words which accompany these two features respectively; (c) duplicate accounts of the same event--sometimes separately presented, sometimes intermingled. We propose also to deal more fully than has been done in Chapter 21 with (d) the relation between the Babylonian stories of the Creation and "the Flood" and those we have in the Book of Genesis. And our mode of procedure will be, first, to state the peculiarities about to be dealt with-separately when convenient, and for the most part in the language of one or other of the "Critics"--and then to present Swedenborg's solution of it.
1 See pp. 38-42, above.
Let the following from the Encyclopedia Britannica introduce the general subject and the first of our particular points
Astruc observed (1753) that the respective uses of "Jehovah" and "Elohim," as the name of the Deity, afford a criterion by which two documents can be dissected out of the Book of Genesis.
1. This is a claim which The Polychronze Bible, in which the portions supposed to come from different sources are printed in different colors, does not at all bear out, but, on the contrary, discredits,
The judicious reader will not, of course, pert-nit himself to be carried off his feet by the word "certainly" in the concluding clause! That which is there set down as "certain" is just as much hypothesis as the assumption that any Jehovistic or Elohistic "documents" ever had actual existence in fact--an assumption for which, it need hardly be said, there is not a shred of evidence.
Strong confirmation of the truth of our contention in this respect, is to be found in the fact that Astruc actually entitled his work, CONJECTURES on the original Memoirs of which it appears Moses made use in composing the Book of Genesis! Another eloquent testimony to the purely conjectural character of these speculations is, that, in speaking of "the origin of the theory of the late date of the Priestly legislation" in the Pentateuch, Reuss says of the originator of that particular theory: "it [the theory] came to him, he tells us, rather as an intuition than as a logical conclusion; and it was nothing less than this: that the Prophets are earlier than the Law and the Psalms later than both" (The Bible and the Critics, by the Rev. John McEwan, D.D., 1902). Further: "When the late Professor Robertson Smith called certain views of Dr. Cheyne's 'fanciful,' Dr. Cheyne said, 'That should be no objection to a historical student like the author.'...Professor Smith is, as we have seen, himself not devoid of this privilege; without which there is no piecing together the scattered fragments of history, no unifying the lifeless conclusions of cold criticism" (Fundamentals, etc., P. 24.). In other words, Dr. Cheyne did not even dispute that his theories--in common, be it clearly understood, with those of all the rest of the Higher Critics--were the products of imagination; and his reply to the charge is to justify that mode of "criticism"!
The facts, in this case, are, properly speaking, the contents of the Scriptures in the form in which we now have them. But the critics have a way, when they encounter anything in those contents which is incompatible with their hypotheses--and such things abound-of calmly ruling them out as "interpolations by a later hand"! When search is made for the evidence that these statements are "interpolations by a later hand," it is found that the only evidence producible is that they do not agree with the hypothesis. Instead of this circumstance being accepted, as it would be in any really scientific method, as discrediting the conflicting hypothesis, it is taken as discrediting the facts which the hypothesis professedly set out to explain, but finishes by unceremoniously brushing aside. It is to be admitted that this is a highly convenient way of dealing with awkward facts and establishing a hypothesis--any hypothesis, obviously, could be established by such a method; but it must not claim to be "scientific," and it will not be tolerated by rational men when they come to realize that the problems concerned can be really explained--as we hope to show--without recourse being had to such unscientific and uncritical means.
Reverting now to the Encyclopedia Britannica statement, the reader's attention is especially directed to the fact, that the start, or "point of departure," of Modern Biblical Criticism, and at the same time of its "documentary hypothesis," was the detection by Astruc, in the year 1753, of the Jehovistie and Elohistic features in Genesis.
Now, Swedenborg had drawn public attention to this peculiarity several years previously; it comes up again and again in all his theological Writings; and he repeatedly points it out in the very first work of the series. This is the one entitled, The Arcana Coelestia which are in the Sacred Scripture, or Word of the Lord, disclosed; the first volume of which-comprising nos. 1-1885--saw the light of publication in 1749, four year's before Astruc's work referred to above. Several of the extracts to be presently given are from that volume; and consequently of the date mentioned, or earlier.
In order to place the reader in a position to adequately appreciate Swedenborg's explanation of these peculiarities, and of those to be brought forward later, it will be well to premise a few fundamental principles of the new doctrine of Regeneration, disclosed in these works from the Spiritual Sense of the Word. They have been incidentally adverted to in our chapter on the Spiritual Sense of the 1st chapter of Genesis; but a concise recapitulation of them here is none the less necessary.
These fundamentals are:
(1) Regeneration is not a magical and instantaneous event, but an ordered and gradual process, of many stages; and it consists in bringing the whole complex nature of man into harmony with the Mind and Character of God, whereby he becomes a "child of God" in a spiritual point of view.
(2) At every step of it, Regeneration must embrace both the Will and the Understanding. And the Will, when regenerated, becomes receptive of Divine Goodness, and the organ of Love to God and man; and the Understanding, when regenerated, receptive of Divine Truth, and the organ of Faith and spiritual intelligence. The point is that, in every detail of the process, both Will and Understanding must be brought under the influence of Regeneration.
(3) At the outset, these two faculties are at variance; for, while the Understanding admits Divine Truth with comparative ease, the Will for a long time resists, and only at length yields, after the struggle and conflict which we know as Temptation. The bringing of Will and Understanding into harmony and under united allegiance to the Divine Truth, which is the ultimate aim of Regeneration, is spoken of in this doctrine, as the spiritual, or heavenly, "marriage."
(4) Lastly, there are two distinct levels of Regenerative attainment. The lower, and more external, of these is called the "Spiritual degree," and in it the Understanding takes the lead; and the Understanding thus leads by Divine Truth. The higher and more internal of these Regenerative levels is called the "Celestial degree," which is preeminently the heavenly state; and in it the fully-developed new Will leads the way in every detail of life; and the Will leads by the Goodness which constantly flows into it from God. It is during the "Spiritual" stage, that the spiritual "marriage" spoken of above is step by step established, and consequently that stage is characterized by conflict; from which conflict, when the Celestial degree is attained, there is at once, and ever afterwards, rest. The attainment of the "Celestial degree" of Regeneration is the "Sabbath," or rest, of the soul. These two degrees, or levels, of Regeneration are also indicated by the terms "Spiritual man" and "Celestial man," respectively.
These principles, well grasped, will enable the reader to appreciate what is to be now put before him.
(1) Swedenborg's explanation of the Jehovistic and Elohistic peculiarities pointed out above starts from the principle that "THE LORD gave the Word," and that He deliberately adopted the peculiarity here in question, with a definite object in view. That object is indicated in the following brief statements:
By "Jehovah" the Lord is meant as to the Divine Good of the Divine Love; and by "God" [Heb., Elohim] the Lord is meant as to the Divine Truth of the Divine Wisdom (True Christian Religion, no. 253).
The name "God" is used in treating of the Spiritual man, but the name "Jehovah" in treating of the Celestial man (Arcana Coelestia, no. 3920.
In this chapter [Gen. ii.] the Celestial man is treated of; in the preceding, the Spiritual man was treated of. This is plain from the fact that, now [Gen. ii. 4], for the first time, it is said, "JEHOVAH God": in the preceding portions, where the Spiritual man has been treated of, it is only "GOD" (ibid., nos. 81, 89).
It is said here [Gen. vii. i], "Jehovah," because the subject now treated of is Charity. In the previous chapter, verse 9 to the end, it is not said "Jehovah," but "God," because there it treats of ... intellectual things, which are of Faith.... When intellectual things, or the Truths of Faith are treated of, the term "God" is used; but when the things of the will, or the Goods of Love [or Charity], the term "Jehovah" is employed (ibid., no. 709).
In order that the full force of these statements may be perceived, it needs to be borne in mind, as shown in Chapter 11, that, in the internal sense of the Word, "Creation" signifies Regeneration; which, consequently, is the theme, in that sense-as there seen-alike of the 1st and 2nd chapters of Genesis, which, in the literal sense, both treat of Creation.
This both completes the explanation of the peculiarities involved in the employment of the names "Jehovah" and "God," and also introduces the next feature:
(2)Characteristic words, other than the Divine Names, associated with the Jehovistic and Elohistic features respectively.
Eichhorn (1780) showed that the difference in the name of the Deity was accompanied by several other linguistic variations. The passages that use Elohim speak of Him as "creating" the world, and' talk of the beasts of the "earth"; the passages which usually employ the name "Jehovah," speak of Him as "making" or "forming" the world, and talk of the beasts of the "field." These are but two instances out of many: Eichhorn had struck a line of differences, too numerous and too distinctive to prove fallacious (p. 35).
Of all the characteristic words here indicated, Swedenborg takes due note, and presents his solution-based, again, on the distinction between the Celestial and Spiritual man, in respect of Regeneration. In addition to the hint given in the concluding portion of Arcana Coelestia, no. 89, above, he makes, elsewhere, the following more explicit statements:
The external man is called "earth" while man remains Spiritual, but "ground" and also "field" when he becomes Celestial (Arcana Coelestia, no. 90);
while, as regards the words "create," "form," and "make," he has this:
To "create," to "form," and to "make," all signify to regenerate, yet with a difference of signification (ibid., no. 16);
The expression to "create," properly relates to than when he is simply created anew, or Regenerated; and to "make," when he is Perfected. A distinction is, therefore, preserved in the Word between "creating," "forming," and "making," as was shown above in the 2nd chapter of Genesis, where the Spiritual man becoming Celestial is treated of.... To "create" relates to the Spiritual man, and to "make," that is, to perfect, to the Celestial man (ibid., no. 472).
In leaving this detail, it may not be amiss to point out that Swedenborg's analysis surpasses that of the Modern Critics, in that it discovers that the word "ground" as well as the word "field," occurs in the Jehovistic portions, but not in the Elohistic. Swedenborg, indeed, draws attention to many other kindred peculiarities, which space forbids our even mentioning. We come now to:
(3) Duplicate accounts of the same event-sometimes separately presented, sometimes intermingled. On this feature we quote again, for the Critics, from Professor Smith's book. He says:
A few years later [than Eichhorn], in 1798, Ilgen, another German, observed that, within those parts of Genesis where Elohim is used, there are also different accounts of the same event, which can be distinguished from each other by;differences of style and vocabulary. Ilgen is therefore called the discoverer of the second Elohist (Modern Criticism, etc., p. 35).
Swedenborg's explanation of this very striking feature rests upon the same principle that accounts for the duplicate narratives of the Creation and the Flood, and can be perhaps best elucidated by his remarks upon the latter of these instances. Upon this, he comments thus:
From this verse [Gen. vi. 1] to the fifth, almost the same things occur as in the preceding chapter, as, indeed, is the case in the subsequent verses; so that he who is unacquainted with the Internal Sense of the Word, must needs suppose that it is a mere repetition. Similar instances occur in other parts of the Word, especially in the Prophets, where the same thing is expressed in various ways, and is sometimes even taken up anew and described again. The reason is, as has been before observed, that there are two faculties in man, perfectly distinct from, each other, the Will and the Understanding; and the Word treats of each distinctly. This is the cause of these repetitions (Arcana Coelestia, no. 707).1
1 Quoted also in footnote to Chap. 12, above, see pp. 197-8.
Respecting, moreover, such repetitions in general, he makes the following remarks:
He who abides in the sense of the letter only, cannot know otherwise than that it is a certain historical circumstance that is thus repeated; but, here, as elsewhere, there is never the least expression which is superfluous or meaningless; for it is the Word of the Lord.
It only remains to add that ALL the distinguishing peculiarities of each account of the Creation and each account of the Flood, are comprehended in this principle; that is to say, all those which distinguish the "Jehovah" account, relate in the Internal Sense to Good, or the Will, and are thus what are called celestial peculiarities; while those which distinguish the "Elohim" narrative relate to Truth, or the Understanding, and are "spiritual" peculiarities. For example:
Characteristic of its style [viz., that of the so-called Prophetic, or Jehovist, "document"] is the use of the Divine name, "Jehovah"; [a] the use of the phrase, "the male and his female" in vii. 2 (literally, "the man and his wife"J), quite different from that used in vi. 19 [which is, "male and female"--"E"]; the term "house" applied to Noah and his family in vii. i [J].1
1 The early Chapters of Genesis. By Prof. H. E Ryle, 97-8.
J has [b] seven of each of the "clean" and two of each of the unclean; E has the animals two by two, with no reference to any distinction between "clean" and "unclean." 2
The name "Jehovah," as involving the "celestial" man, or state, or the will and the things pertaining to it, as distinguished from the "spiritual" man, or the understanding and the things pertaining thereto (which latter are involved in the name "God," or "Elohim has been already sufficiently dealt with.
(a) "The man and his wife" (vii. 2)--J-versus male and female (vi. 19)--E.
The explanation of this peculiarity is given in the exposition of Gen. vii. 9, as follows:
That "male and female" signify truth and good, may be seen from what was said before, at verses 2 and 3 of this chapter, where "male and female" are predicated of fowls1 and "man and wife" of beasts.1 The reason was also then stated, namely, that there is a marriage of the things of the will with those of the understanding, and not so much of the things of the understanding, in themselves regarded, with those of the will. The former are related as" man and wife," the latter as "male and. female." And because the subject here ["E"], as before said, is the temptation of that man as to the things of his understanding, it is said "male and female," and combat, or temptation, as to the things of the understanding is meant (Arcana Coelestia, no. 749).
1 "By beasts are signified the things of the will; by birds, those of the understanding" (Arcana Coelestia, n. 142).
Under Gen. Vii. 2, the matter is put thus:
"That by male and female are signified truths and goods, is evident from what has been said and shown before, namely, that man and male signify truth, and wife and female good.
(b) The occurrence of the term "house," in the sense of family, in "J" only (Gen. vii. i).
This peculiarity is adverted to and explained in the exposition of this passage, in these terms:
"'Enter thou and all thy house into the ark.' That this signifies the things which are of the will is evident In the preceding chapter, where the things of the understanding are meant, it is expressed differently, namely, 'Thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife and thy sons' wives with thee' (v. 18). 'House' signifies the will, and what is of the will" (ibid., 710)
(c) "Sevens" [J] versus "pairs" or "twos" [E]. This peculiarity is explained under Gen. Vii. 2, thus:
"The subject here treated of is the things of man's will.... For it is said that he should take of the clean beasts by sevens and the same is said in the following verse concerning the 'fowl.' But, in the', preceding chapter (vv. 19, 20), it is not said that he should take by 'sevens' but by 'twos,' or pairs, because there the things of the understanding are treated of (ibid., n. 717).
The sum of all which is, that all of these expressions and peculiarities which the Critics find to be characteristic of "J," or the "Jehovist" verses, or verse-groups, in their internal sense have a signification which relates to the will and the things of the will; and in those verses, or verse-groups, or sections which are characterized by the use of the Divine name "Jehovah," it is the will, and the things of the will that are treated of in the internal sense; it is in those parts, therefore, that these words belong. Their being in the Jehovist sections, consequently, is, on the principles of spiritual interpretation, simply what was to be expected, and is a peculiarly telling confirmation of the soundness of that principle. Incidentally, it shows how utterly superfluous the fanciful documentary hypothesis is to explain the facts, and becomes, to that extent, an argument against the soundness of the hypothesis.
Another and kindred peculiarity--to which the Critics, though they must have noticed it, have apparently attached no significance--is also pointed out and accounted for on the same principle; thus:
"There are, in the Word, PAIRS OF EXPRESSIONS [occurring in the same context], which appear as repetitions of the same idea: as, waste and solitude, foe and enemy, sin and iniquity, anger and wrath, nation and people, joy and gladness, mourning and weeping. These expressions appear to be synonymous, when yet they are not so; for waste,' foe, sin, anger, nation, joy, and mourning, are predicated [in the Spiritual Sense] of Good, while solitude, enemy, iniquity, wrath, people, gladness, and weeping, are predicated of Truth.
Wherever, therefore, we meet with such nearly, or quite, synonymous words used together, one of each couple has relation to Truth and the other to Good; and they are thus coupled for the purpose of reminding the reader who is acquainted with the Spiritual Sense, as at this day every one may be, of the indispensable necessity of uniting Goodness with Truth, and Truth with Goodness, in every detail of his spiritual life--that is, of doing, obeying, practicing and loving the things he knows, understands and believes; "doing," etc., having relation to Good, or the Will and "knowing," etc., to Truth, or the Understanding.
We come now, lastly, to:
(d) The relation between the Babylonian accounts of the Creation and the Flood and those of the Book of Genesis.
In 1897, a Babylonian version of the stories of the Creation and the Flood was discovered, which presents so many points of resemblance with those we have in the Book of Genesis, that a connection of some kind between them can scarcely be doubted, but which is, at the same time, marked by so many and such grave differences that the differences call for explanation.
1 Described in Prof. G. A. Smith's work, Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament, from which several citations have been already made; and referred to in Chap. 2, above.
We are ignorant of the time at which the Hebrews received these stories from their Babylonian sources; while, in their Biblical form, they exhibit so many differences from the Babylonian, as to make it probable that the materials were used by the writers of the Pentateuchal documents only after long tradition within a Hebrew atmosphere (Modern Criticism, etc., pp. 61, 62).
It is, perhaps, as well to call to mind, once more, that "the writers of the Pentateuchal documents," here so confidently referred to, are mere creatures of the Critics imagination--there being, in sober fact, not a jot of evidence that such "writers," or the "documents" ascribed to them, ever existed!
But contrast with the above, Swedenborg's account of the source of the Biblical version of the stories in question, as developed somewhat fully earlier in the present work; but which for convenience we briefly gather up in this place. He first informs us that there was both a Church and a Divine Revelation, or a "Word," prior to that in the one case instituted, and in the other given, by Jehovah, through Moses, among the Israelites; and, as regards such prior Word, he draws attention to certain evidence for it contained in our own Scriptures.1 He informs us, further, that that Word, together with religion generally, underwent corruption, in course of time, in the various countries in which it had existed; and, finally, states that the first seven chapters of Genesis, in which the accounts in question occur, were transcribed by Moses, under Divine command and guidance, from that "Ancient Word," to form the introduction to the new Word--our present one,--which was given through him and a long succession of inspired writers, among the people of Israel, in the course of the next thousand years.
1 Presented in Chap. 2, pp. 35-37 above.
On these points we here offer only the following extracts:
This Ancient Church had also a written Word, which consisted of historical and prophetic parts, like the Word of the Old Testament.... The historical parts were called "The Wars of Jehovah" (see Num. xxi. 14, 15), and the prophetic were called "The Enunciators" [in the A. V., "them that speak in Proverbs"]--Num.
xxi. 27, 28.
That Word is still preserved in heaven, and is in use among those Ancients, there, who were in possession of it during their abode in the world. Those Ancients who still use it in heaven, were, in part, natives of the land of Canaan and its vicinity, as Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Chaldea, Assyria, Egypt, Sidon, Tyre and Nineveh; the inhabitants of all which kingdoms were skilled in the science of correspondences in which that Word was written.... But as that Word was full of such correspondences as were significative of celestial and spiritual things remotely, and in consequence began to be falsified by many, it was, in process of time, by the Divine Providence of the Lord, removed, and another Word, written by correspondences less remote, was given; which was that delivered by the Prophets among the sons of Israel. In this Word were retained [from the Ancient one] several names of places, not only such as were in the land of Canaan, but also in the surrounding kingdoms of Asia; all which signify things and states of the Church; but then they derived such significations from the Ancient Word.... The first chapters of Genesis, in which the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the sons of those persons, even to the Flood, and also Noah and his sons, are treated of, are also in that Word, and thus were transcribed from it by Moses (True Christian Religion, no. 279).
We venture to submit, with some degree of confidence, that the whole of the solution presented in this chapter, is sounder criticism than that of the "Critics," just as it is radically distinguished from theirs by the fact that it accepts the testimony of the Scriptures as to their own origin and character; that it finds in those Scriptures the evidence of the actual existence and reality of the source from which it traces the origin of the opening chapters of Genesis; and that it ascribes the corruptions which certainly exist in one or other of the two versions of the stories of the Creation and the Flood that we know of--the Biblical and the Babylonian--not to the one given in the God-inspired Scriptures we possess, but to the one found in the records of an admittedly idolatrous people.
And what a contrast, in conclusion, do the solutions here offered of ALL the peculiarities on which the Critics build, present, in comparison with the theories--they are no "solutions" at all--of the Critics! Those here presented, rest on the principle -well established, we would fain hope, in the foregoing pages--that the Sacred Scripture is a DIVINE BOOK, and derives from that fact a unique structure and character; which consist in its containing, within its literal sense, interior senses, one within another, suited to the angels of heaven in their different degrees, and, inmostly within all, the very Divine Truth of the Mind of God.
CHAPTER 16. THE NATURE AND MODUS OPERANDI OF THE INSPIRATION OF THE WORD
CHAPTER 17. THE CANON; OR, THE BOOKS OF DIVINE AUTHORSHIP
16.The Nature and modus operandi of the Inspiration of the Word.
IN approaching the subject of the Inspiration of the Word, it is necessary in the first place to clearly realize that the Word, by which we here mean the written Word contained in our Sacred Scriptures, is DIVINE TRUTH, or, what is the same thing, the Thought, or the Mind, of God. This is the deep meaning of the announcement with which the Gospel according to John opens: in the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word WAS GOD (i. 1). In its first Fount and Originin its Beginningthat is to say, the Word is the very Truth1 that is with God, thus the Divine Truth, or Gods own Thought; and, consequently, it is God. And this is just as true of the Word in its written form as it was of the Word in its incarnate form; for the Word that is written, and the Word that was incarnated, are the same.
1 Thy Word, said Jesus, IS TRUTH (John xvii. 17).
The problem of the Inspiration of the word, therefore, is, How shall the Mind, or Thought, of GOD be communicated to men in the world so as to be intelligible to them, and thus serviceable for their spiritual needs? It is perfectly obvious, to begin with, that it can never be intelligible to man, or even to highest angels, as it exists in Gods Mind, or as it is in Itself; if only by reason of the finiteness alike of man and of angel. For Divine Truth, or Gods Thought, is, in the nature of the case, Infinite, and hence, in itself, absolutely and eternally beyond the capacity of even the sublimest finite intellect, much more of that of man in the world, and more still of that of man in the abject state of spiritual grossness and destitution which characterized him when the older portions of our Scriptures were communicated. God has Himself, indeed, explicitly declared this truth by the prophet Isaiah: My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (lv. 8, 9). Actually, the gulf is wider than is here expressed; for God, and thus His Thought, or the Divine Truth, is above and beyond the heavens also, or, what is the same thing, the thoughts of angels.
But the "thoughts" of angels, again, are likewise higher than those of then, and must 1w not only capable of more exalted truths than man's can ever attain to, but must also take a loftier and sublimer view even of the truths that man can, in his Way, apprehend. The thoughts and perceptions, therefore, of the inhabitants of the heavens, also, are, and always must be, incomprehensible and unintelligible to men in the world.
Between the Divine Truth to be communicated, and the mind of mare in the world to which to be communicated, then, there, lie all the planes of heavenly, or angelic intelligence, even the lowest of which is ineffable to man. By his experiences in the spiritual world (alluded to earlier) Swedenborg learned, and through him we may learn, that there are three such distinct planes of heavenliness, and so of angelic intelligence, or three distinct heavens, one above another: a highest, called Celestial; a middle, called Spiritual, and a lowest, called Celestial-natural and Spiritual-natural, because it, although Spiritual or Celestial in a degree man can never reach while here below, yet approximates to mans Natural state in the world, more nearly than do either the Spiritual or Celestial heavens, proper, above it.
Its imparting any Divine Truth, therefore, to the Celestial angels of the highest heaven, it would be necessary for God to adapt, or accommodate it to their capacity, by clothing, it in "Celestial" mental forms: in its impartation to the "spiritual" angels of the middle heaven, it would have to be further adapted to their capacity, by being clothed in "Spiritual" mental forms: in its impartation to the Natural angels of the lowest heaven, it would have to be still further accommodated to their capacity, by being clothed in angelic-Natural mental forms; and, finally, in its impartation to man in the world, it would have to be accommodated, yet further, to his capacity, by being clothed in worldly-natural mental forms.
The position then is this: any Truth, communicated by God to man in this world, must necessarily pass through the three heavens that intervene between God and the world, and be clothed in the mental or thought forms of those heavens, respectively, in succession. In no other way can it possibly reach man in the world at all. Whatever, therefore, is inspired by Godas is the case with everything that is truly the Word of Goddescends from Him through the three heavens in succession, in each of which it assumes a mental form adapted to the genius and capacities of the angels there, to the inspired man in the world through whom it is to be communicated; in whose mind it assumes a form adapted to the state and capacity of men in general.
It follows, also, from the mode of the communication, that each successive "accommodation" contains, inwardly within it, all those that are prior to itself; and, thus, the Divine "worldly-natural," which is the last in tile series, and constitutes the "Letter" of the Word, contains within it all the higher accommodations, or "senses"--for that, clearly, is what they arein succession, and inmostly, at, and forming, its very care, the very Divine "Truth Itself, of which it is the last expression. In the Letter of the Word, therefore, the Divine Truth communicated is in the very fullest embodiment it can ever know, or in its fullness. And being in its greatest fullness there, it there also attains its maximum Holiness and Power. It is hence plain, whence and where the Divinity of the Word is, and what Inspiration isthings which, on any other hypothesis, cannot be perceived at all, and which, for that very reason, are coming increasingly into doubt, and even into denial.
All this being so, we may now see the significance and force of the following summary can the subject given in those Writings in which its Internal Sense is now revealed:
The Word in its Origin is the Divine Truth Itself, eternally existing and in time proceeding from the Lord; which, in its descent to man on earth, has passed through the heavens in order, in their degreeswhich are three. It exists, therefore, in ever heaven,1 in a form accommodated to the wisdom and intelligence of the angels there, and lastly is sent down by God through the heavens to the world, where it exists in a form and manner accommodated to mans apprehension and capacity. This, therefore, is the sense of its Letter; in which the Divine Truth lies deposited, in distinct order, such as it is in the three heavens. A consequence of this is that all the wisdom of the angels who are in the three heavens, is inwardly deposited by God in our Word; and, in the inmost finite degree, is the wisdom of the angels of the third heaven, which is incomprehensible and ineffable to man, because full of the secret things and treasures of the Divine Verities. These lie stored up in each and all things of our Word. And whereas Divine Truth is THE LORD in the heavens, therefore, also, the Lord Himself is present in it, and may be said to dwell in each and all things of His Word as He dwells in His heavens.2
1 In agreement with the express declaration of the psalmist: For ever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in THE HEAVENS (cxix. 89)note the plural; which is according to the Hebrew.
2 Swedenborgs Apocalypse Explained, n. 1072.
It is manifest, therefore, in the view of it here presented that no other book in the world is, in any respect, comparable with THE WORLD OF THE LORD.
We are, next, to inquire into the problem of the mode, or method, of Inspiration--as regards how it acted upon, and produced its effects by means of, the inspired inert through whom it was written.
At this juncture, it will be useful, and is even necessary, to draw attention to, and emphasize, the truth that the men were inspired solely for the giving of the Word--all we have learned proclaims this-and, thus, when engaged in giving it, and NOT AT OTHER TIMES. "Inspiration," in other words, is not an attribute of the person, attaching to him at alt times, but exclusively an adjunct of the function of giving the Word, pertaining to the inspired writer only when engaged in that function.
This warning given, our present business is with what may be called the psychology of Inspiration what were the states, so far as can be known, spiritual, mental and physical, of the inspired penmen of the Word--historians, evangelists, psalmist prophetswhen engaged in that work.
It seems clear, at the outset, that, for the moat part at all events, the writers in question had no idea of their own inspiration. Everything points to the conclusion that they wrote what they wrote under the impression that it was they, and they alone, who were composing the history, or biography, or narrative, or record of vision, or prediction, and that they wrote as historians, or chroniclers, biographers, narrators, recorders or diarists, pure and simple.
By the aid of the doctrine set forth at the beginning of the present chapter, there is little if any difficulty in seeing how the inspiration operated. When the writer was engaged in the performance of his duties and producing what, all unawares to himself, was to be the ultimate form of the Divine Word, the Divine Truth which God purposed that the portion of the history (or other kind of record) being then written should enshrine, proceeding from the Mind of God through the different heavens in succession in the manner shown above, was Divinely directed into the mental activities of the historian, and shaped the history, directed the marshalling of the facts to be used and the inadvertent (or even purposed) dropping out of those that would not serve the purposes of the inspired, Divine Truth, and secretly governed the selection of the very words in which the facts and ideas were to be expressed.
Swedenborgs own experience as the medium of a non-parabolic Divine Revelation, enabled him to tell us that the Divine inspiration, or the inspired Divine Truth, was directed into the mind of the writer whose work was to be inspired with it, by means of an angel of the lowest heaven, and explains how it is done. He says:
The angel who inspires the words into a prophet, or into those who speak the things inspiredas here1 into Mosesis only in spiritual things, and thus acts into the mind of him who is inspired. He thus calls forth the thought, by means of which the things inspired fall into words in the customary manner. The words are such as are in the inspired person, thus according to his apprehension, and according to the form in which they are fixed in him [i. e. according to his usual mode of expression].
It will not be expected by any reasonable person that all the literature, whether historical, poetic, or prophetic, of the Jewish nation was thus inspired, or even, necessarily, all that was written by the same man; but only such of it as was used by God for embodying those internal senses which all God-inspired Scripture carries in its bosom by virtue of its inspiration. But, on this point, more in our next chapter.
From what has just been presented we see what was the modus operandi of the inspiration of the inspired historian, psalmist, prophet, parabolist or biographer; and it will be noted that, although the very words used were given to the writer, flowing down his pen as it were, they were not dictated. The method of this form of inspirationinspiration in the strictest sense of the termis thus not dictation but influx, or inaudible, insensible and unconscious flowing in.
But wherever it is said, Jehovah, or the Lord, or God, spake, or, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, or any equivalent expression, which is the case only with the prophets,1 there was DICTATION, in an audible voiceconcerning which later.2 The case of the prophets is more complex than that of the other inspired writers; for, while the recorder of worldly history was in the ordinary state of a man in the world, what we may call a natural state, or the state of the body, the prophets experienced two states; a state of the body, in which they were, in common with the other inspired writers, when writing the Word given through them, and a state of the spiritspoken of as being in the spirit3in which they saw their visions, and underwent their more extraordinary experiences, in general.
1 This, of course, includes Moses; who was prophet as well as historian. Those writers who are commonly classed as prophets, simply, may, on the other hand, be said to be historians as well as prophets.
2 pages 302 and 303, below.
3 See Rev. i. 10; iv. 2; xvii. 3; xxi. 10. For similar expressions in the Old Testament, see Ezek. Ii. 2; iii. 12, 24; xi. 1, 24; xi. 2; Zech. i. 8; vi. 1, etc.; Dan. Vii. 1, 2, 7, 13; viii. 2; ix. 21; x. 1, 7, 8; 2 Kings vi. 17. The same state is implied, as a general thing, wherever, in the prophetic Books, the writer says I saw.
It is habitually said of the prophets that they were in the spirit, or in vision; also, that the Word came to them from Jehovah. When they were in the spirit, or in vision, they were not in the body, but in their sprit, in which state they saw such things as are in the spiritual world; but when the Word came to them, they were in the body and heard Jehovah speak.
That it was not the eyes of this servants body that were opened, but the eyes of his spirit, is evident form the fact that the eyes of his body were already open; for he saw the Syrian army with them, investing the city. And the things he saw when his eyes were opened were actual objects in the spiritual world, there, to be seen by anyone in whom the requisite eyes for seeing them were opened, and seen by Elisha previously, as is proved by the fact that Elisha knew that the young man would see them, granted only the opening of his eyes.
But, as respecting the Word, it was not revealed in a state of the spirit, or in vision, but was dictated by the Lord in a living voice to the prophets (ibid.).
One thing to be noted, here, is that the prophets heard Jehovah speak both when they were in the spirit and when they were in the body; but they only wrote the Word when in the state of the body, and consequently were in the state of the body when writing those portions of their Books that were dictated to them by Jehovah. These portions came to them by Divine dictation, not by influx: the remaining portions came by influx, not by dictation; but when actually writing both portions, they were in the body and not in the spirit.
In one part of the above statement, the expression occurs, what Jehovah spoke through the angels. It is obviously not possible for the Infinite God, in His own proper Person, to speak directly into the ear of a man in the world: this would not, indeed, be possible in the case of the highest angel. Hence, the true state of affairs is accurately expressed in the phrase what Jehovah spoke through the angels.
Many of the things which the prophets heard when in the spirit are related in their Books. In these cases, as in all the others, they were in the body when writing, reproducing as from memory, but under the inspiration explained above, the things they had heard when in the spirit.
Moses was in the spirit when he saw the patterns of the things in the heavens which God showed him in the mount,1 and when he held conversations with God:2
1 All the representatives instituted with the Israelitish nation were like those that exist in the lowest heaven, but were less perfect because they were in the nature of this world. Such were the Tabernacle with the ark, the table upon which was the showbread, the lampstand and its lamps, the altar of incense, the garments of Aaron and his sons, and, afterwards, the Temple, with the holy of holies there, containing the ark upon which were the mercy-seat and the cherubim, also the brazen sea, the lavers, and the rest. It was from this lowest heaven that the things to be instituted with the Israelitish nation were shown by the Lord to Moses on mount Sinai (see Exod. Xxv. 40; xxvi. 30; xxvii. 8). But these things were not seen by Moses with the eyes of his body, but with the eyes of his spirit (Arcana Coelestia, no. 10276).
2 Through the personality, of course, of the angel of the Lord. See pp. 302-3, just above.
It is to be noted, also, that the Lord could just as readily fill evil spirits with His Spirit for the purpose of getting needed external thought-forms which only an evil mind could furnish. In this case, the thought-forms would be evil, and the resultant literal sense in that place would be something wicked; but by virtue of its divine inspiration it would equally contain within, in the Internal Sense, Divine Truth, and Divine Truth only. This is the true explanation of all those cases in which it is said that the Lord enjoined the commission of natural evils: as, that Abraham should offer up Isaac; that the Israelites should plunder the Egyptians and exterminate the Canaanites; that Hosea should take an adulteress to wife; and others of a like evil and immoral characterthe evil spirit, in such cases, inspiring an irrestible persuasion that he was God, and consequently that what he instilled was commanded by God; which secured its being carried into effect as of Divine command, and its being afterwards recorded as such in the Word.
After what has been shown in this chapter of the real nature, mode and conditions of the inspiration of the Word, it will be seen, as soon as stated that inspiration of the kind by which the Letter of the Word was given, implies nothing whatever as to the spiritual or moral quality of the inspired person. That an evil man can be inspired is manifest from the case of Balaam, through whose mouth, avowedly, came the greater part of the very words of Num. xxiii. and xxiv. Nor does this kind of inspiration necessarily carry with it any understanding whatever of the Internal Sense of what is inspired, or any knowledge, or belief, that any such sense is contained, or any sense beyond the bare Letter.
From this it is clear how woefully astray those are who tell us that what is necessary to the true understanding of the word is that we should get at the meaning of the writers! The Word of God can never be arrived at in such a way. GOD gave the Word, not the men who wrote the words of its Letter; and a true understanding of it can only be attained by getting at the DIVINE TRUTH, which was originally inspired into the Letter, and perpetually inspires it, thereby making it the Letter of THE WORD, instead of a mere human composition and worldly history, which could not possibly carry any spiritual or heavenly, much less any Divine content.
Knowing, now, what the inspiration of the Word truly is, we can understand something of the spiritual benefit and help which the habitual devout reading of it is known by experience to carry with it; so that we rise from its perusal inspired with holy resolve, and armed with strength from above, for meeting the temptations of daily life without succumbing to them. The explanation is that, by reason of its being inspired with its Internal Senses, the angels of the different heavens who are unconsciously associated with our spirits that they may minister unto us in our capacity as heirs of salvation (see Heb. i. 14), while we are reading the Word in the Letter, perceive with delight the blessed truths of the Sense that exists in their heaven, and are inspired by that means to a yet fuller realization in themselves of heavenly aspiration, attainment and life.
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD; AND THE WORD WAS GOD (John i. 1).
FOR EVER, O LORD, THY WORD IS SETTLED IN THE HEAVENS (Psa. Cxix. 89).
THY WORD, O LORD, IS TRUE FROM THE BEGNINNING; AND EVERY ONE OF THY RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS ENDURETH FOR EVER (Psa. Cxix. 160).
17.The Canon; or, the Books of Divine Authorship.
IN our fourth chapter, above,1 it was pointed out that only some of the Books bound up together in the volume we call The Bible, explicitly proclaim themselves to be the Word of God; and it was stated that the arguments and claims advanced in this work are made on behalf only of those Books that are this, and not of any others. We also deferred the further consideration of the question thus raised, the question of the canon, to the present chapter.
1 See pp. 65-66.
The Books which, for various reasons (to be now gone into), are not to be regarded as the Word of God strictly so called, that is, in the sense of being of unequivocal Divine Authorship, were indicated at the close of the chapter referred to above; and it was left to the reader to deduce for himself, if so disposed, the names of those that are. But as it is necessary for our present purpose to have them fully before us, they must now be specifically set forth. They are as follow:
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE THAT CONSTITUTE THE WORD OF GOD, STRICTLY SO CALLED.
Genesis Psalms Obadiah
Exodus Isaiah Jonah
Leviticus Jeremiah Micah
Numbers Lamentations Nahum
Deuteronomy Ezekiel Habakkuk
Joshua Daniel Zephanian
Judges Hosea Haggai
1st and 2nd Samuel Joel Zecharia
1st and 2nd Kings Amos Malachi.
The Four Gospels; and the Book of the Revelation.
As to the form, validity and scope of this claim in the several Books concerned, we must refer the reader on the present occasion to the Books themselves. In this place, we adduce the following statement from one of those works in which the Spiritual Sense of the Word has been disclosed, which deals with this very subject:
The Books of the Word are all those which have the Internal Sense; those, however, which have it not, are not the Word. The Books of the Word in the Old Testament, are: the five Books of Moses, the Book of Joshua, the Book of the Judges, the two Books of Samuel, the two Books of the Kings, the Psalms of David, the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; and, in the New Testament, the four EvangelistsMatthew, Mark, Luke and Johnand the Apocalypse.1
1 Swedenborgs Arcana Coelestia, no. 10325.
Comparison will show that this list coincides entirely, as regards the names of the Books, with the one given above: the two, in fact, have only one point of differencethe ground on which the lists rest. Whereas the former rests, as here set down, upon the claims made by the Books, or some of their contents, to being given by God, Swedenborgs rests upon the fact of the Books containing the Internal Sense,--a characteristic abundantly established, as we believe, in this work, as inseparable from verbally inspired Scripture. We find, therefore, that the claims of the Books, and their character in relation to this inseparable mark of any Book of truly Divine Authorship in the strict sense of that world, combine in testifying that the Books named, and those only, are the Books of the Word properly so called.
This position, of course, brings us into collision with accepted opinion on the subject; which, as is well known, is, that all the Books constituting the Authorized English Version of the Bible are on precisely the same footing in this regard, and thus are all equally the Divine Word. Many persons, too, imagine that Divinity is predicable of the collection of Books, and that there is a Divine sanction, or authority, for their being bound together in one volume, or belonging together in popular opinion, which it is sacrilege to call in question.
To begin with, he should know that the canon, or the collection of Books esteemed as possessing whatever Divine sanction attaches to any Scriptures, has not always been what it is now, as respects either Old or New Testaments. He should know, indeed, that the canon at the present day, is not the same throughout Christendom. The Roman Catholic canon, resting on the authority of the Council of Trent (A. D. 1546), includes, in addition to all the Books in our English Bible, that collection of Jewish writings called the Apocrypha, with the exception of the 3rd and 4th Books of Esdras, 3rd of Maccabees and The Prayer of Manasses. The Books of our ordinary English Bibles constitute the generally recognized Protestant canonwhich differs, to the extent indicated above, from the Roman Catholic. But, again, the strict Lutheran canon, at one time at all events, whether at the present day or not, differed from the general Protestant canon, by excluding the Epistle of James in the New Testament, which Luther utterly scouted as a right strawy epistle. And the Romish Church denounces the Protestant restriction of the canon, amounting as it does to the rejection of many Books that Rome accepts, as heresy and sacrilege; and, if ancient acceptance is to be the standard, it is difficult to see how the denunciation is to be evaded.
In this dilemma, which canon, the Romish or the protestant, are we to accept? The one that appears to have behind it the authority of an antiquity long ante-dating the distinction between Protestant and Catholicand which ought, therefore, rather to be called the early Christian canonor, the one that excludes so many books that had been accepted in Christendom with practical unanimity for more than a thousand years before the Reformers appeared on the scene? Much depends, of course, upon the grounds on which the Reformers based their rejection of the Books they regarded as disqualified for inclusion.
In this work the pioneer was Luther; and a glance at his methods and results will throw some probably unexpected light on the subject.
He rejected the whole of the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, partly on the ground that the books constituting it were not originally written in Hebrew, and partly on the internal evidence of their tone and character, from the religious point of view. On similar grounds,
he considered that the Book of Esther ought to be excluded. He also thought (as, of course, many before him had thought and many to this day still think) that the Epistle to the Hebrews was neither Pauls nor any other Apostles, though it might have proceeded from some excellent and learned man who may have been a disciple of Apostles; but he did not put it on a level with the Epistles written by the Apostles themselves.
1 Extrancted from article Canon in The Encyclopedia Britannica.
Now, whatever may be thought of the great Reformers doings in this department, or of the grounds of his decisions, none of those who accept his conclusions to the extent of adopting the Protestant canon in preference to the Christian canon of the first quarter of the 3rd century, adopted by Roman Catholic Christendom, can regard the calling in question of the canonicity, or even the rejection, of some of the Books that he retained, as meriting condemnation, without a hearing of the grounds on which such challenge and rejection rest.
This conclusion is strongly fortified by a glance at the history of the canon in the Christian Church.
It is important to notice, at the outset, that when the Books constituting the New Testament were first promulgated, and for nearly a hundred years afterwards, they were not regarded in any quarter as in any sense whatever the Word of God, or as ranking along with the Books of the Old Testament in that regard; nor was there any idea that any addition to the existing divine Word was either probable, necessary or desirable. That was an idea that had to gather gradually about these Books after they came into existence, and, after assuming form, to become defined, and slowly grow into a generally accepted principle (see Westcotts The Bible in the Church, pp. 61, 62). It cannot be denied, says this authority, that the idea of a New Testament consisting of definite books, and equal in authority with the Old, was foreign to the sub-Apostolic Age (ibid., p. 86).
In a word, there is no evidence whatever that the New Testament Books, for a very long time, though accepted in the Church for use in its public religious exercises, were regarded as the Word of God, or as a New Testament complementing the Old. To Justin Martyr (A. D. 140-17) for example, the Old Testament was a complete Bible, historically and doctrinally (ibid., p. 107).
The first attempt at the formation of a Christian Bible was made by Marcion, a heretic (A. D. 120-170), and was a strictly individual matter, having no authority whatever, and not even regarded as having any (ibid., pp. 109, 110).
And after Christian Scriptures came to be generally acknowledged, there was, for centuries, a wide and universal difference of opinion in all sections of both Eastern and Western Churches, as to which Books in both Testaments were canonical and which were not. This, however, was a conflict of scholars merely; the practice of the Church was virtually unanimous in accepting all the Books in the Old Vulgate, referred to above, as Scripture, and all on the same footing. But there was still no authoritative ecclesiastical decision, or pronouncement, on the subject, until the Council of Trent (A. D. 1546); and that pronouncement was a mere endorsement, absolutely ex cathedra, of the canon which had, as it were, blindly grown into acceptance, by usage, in the course of the centuries (ibid., pp. 255-7). Usage, and not criticism fixed the limits of the Christian Bible. Still, however we call it, the discriminating power was seen in usage and not in law; and this is distinctly recognized by the earliest writers who treat in detail on the New Testament Canon (ibid., pp. 293-4).
It will thus be seen that the canon of the Council of Trent, which is that of the Roman Catholic Church at this day, represents the gradually built-up usage of the Church. That of our Authorized Version, on the other hand, which is practically that of Protestant Christendom, represents the preponderance of scholarly opinion down the Christian ages.
But the one clear and certain fact that emerges from a study of the intricate and complicated history of the canon, is, that not one of the accepted canons carries with it the smallest vestige or semblance of the weight upon the consciences or allegiance of Christians. The question of the canon is, therefore, one that may be freely raised and discussed without any fear, on the part of the devout Christian, of impugning anything that is a matter of Divine authority.
In the case of the canon here proposed, the exclusions rest upon a totally new standard of what constitutes the Word of God. It is no longer a question of the human writer, whether an Apostle or not an Apostle. It is no longer a question of antiquity, either in the book itself or in its acceptancethus, of usage or tradition. It is no longer a question of the opinions of men, whether scholars or ecclesiastics, or the decisions of Councils.
For the first time in history, a definite, clear and rational principle, well established by a vast and weighty body of Scripture evidence, is advanced for the settlement of the vexed question; and it is this: The Books of the Word are all those that have the Internal Sense: the books that have it not, are not the Word.
The indubitable proof that those Books here stated to be Books of the Word, have the Internal Sense, is found in the fact that the Internal Sense of these Books is given in the works just referred to. The proof that the books said to be not books of the Word have not the Internal Sense lies in the fact that the works which disclose the Internal Sense of THE WORD, i. e. the whole wordgives no Internal Sense for those books. Furthermore, the works in which the Lord who gave the Word has revealed its Internal Sense, authoritatively declare that the Books that have the Internal Sense are the ones only that are enumerated: thus, by inevitable implication, that those not enumerated have it not. The canon here presented, therefore, rests upon the intrinsic nature of the the Word, now for the first time known, and upon the explicit authority of a Divine Revelationthe Divine Revelation in which its Internal Sense is given.
But there is independent corroboration at hand, also. Take, first, the Books of the New Testament. The Lord Himself has taught us that His wordsin that they are spirit and life, and, in that their flesh, or Letter, is not where their true profit, consequently their real meaning, resides, but their spirit, or Internal Sense (John vi. 63)possess the characteristic which the principle before our minds makes the distinguishing mark of the Books of the Word. Is it not clear, then, that the Books that contain His words, that are, indeed, to a large extent, made up of the very words that fell from His lips when in the world and after He had departed from the world, must, in virtue of that fact, contain that Internal Sense which, and which alone, can constitute any Book a Book of the Word? Evidently so. And which Books are those? The very Books mentioned in the above list:--the four Gospels and the Book of RevelationAND NO OTHERS. The Acts of the Apostles, as the name implies, is simply a historical record of the doings of the Apostles in the great work on which the Lord had sent them forth, of preaching the Gospel which He Himself had taught them to that end, and thus inaugurating the Christian Church. As such, the book is priceless; but there is noting in its character, or in its contents, to suggest that it is the product of the Divine inspiration, and no sign that it possess the indispensable Internal Sense. No one, we suppose, would content that it does.
The Epistles, again, are excellent books of doctrine, exhortation and admonitionof incalculable service to the Christian growth and development of the service to the Christian growth and development of the converts from heathenism to Christianity to whom they were in the first instance addressed, and also to us now, and to our successors in time to comebut not on that account the word of GOD, even though written by Apostlesand assuredly not containing the indispensable Internal Sense. In them, the flesh, that is the literal sense, profiteth everything; for they contain no other. Therefore, they are not the Lords words: consequently, not practical writings, demanding, as such, a plain non-parabolic styleor, what is the same thing, a style not containing, or conveying any internal sense.
Turn, now, to the Old Testament. For any semblance of authority for the true canon of the Old Testament Scriptures, we must go to the Jews, among whom those Scriptures were given, and with whom they grew up. Now, the Palestinian, or purely Jewish, canon, never recognized the books of the Apocrypha as Divine Scriptures, properly speaking, at all. They were, and are, valued as Jewish history and literature, and mainly as history; but nothing more.
It is solely through the Alexandrian canon, as exemplified in the Septuagint version, that they ever came to be thought of as Scripture at all.
For the rest, the Hebrew canon recognized three classes of Books: (1) The Law; (2) the Prophets; and (3) the Hagiographa, or sacred writings; and the first two classes together were (and are) distinguished by them as pre-eminently the word: the books of the third class, were esteemed as simply what the name impliessacred, or religious writings, but not the word proper.
As to the contents of these three categories: (1) The Law consisted of the 5 books of Moses. (2) The Prophets included: Joshua, Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, called, collectively, the former (or earlier) Prophets, and all the prophetic books according to our definition, with the exceptions of Lamentations and Daniel,--and, earlier, it had included Lamentations as the concluding part of Jeremiah. This latter group was called the later Prophets. (3) the Hagiographa comprised: Psalms, Ruth, 1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel.
If these lists be compared with those given at the outset of the present chapter, the two classes together constituting the word, i. e. the Law and the Prophets, will be seen to coincide with the books of the Word in our list except in the respect that the latter includes the Psalms, Lamentations and Daniel, which the Jewish canon relegates to the Hagiographa, and thus esteems as not belonging, properly, of the Word.
But what about the differences? Is the most ancient canon right, or the most recent? As regards the Psalms and Daniel, they are expressly classed, by Our Lord Himself, as the word of God. The Psalms, most explicitly, in His saying, all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and the prophets and the PSALMS concerning me (Luke xxiv. 44); according to which the Psalms contained Divine propheciesfor their character as prophecies surely destined for fulfillment, certainly establishes them as DIVINEand must, therefore, have been part of the Divine Word. It is true that it is customary among writers on the canon to claim that the term Psalms in this passage really designates THE WHOLE Hagiographa, in which it occupies the first place; on the alleged ground that it was a Jewish usage to refer to groups of books by the name of the first book in the group. On this claim it need only be said that no proof of the existence of any such usage has ever been adduced; and really, to adopt the words of the Rev. Samuel Noble, in his Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Asserted (Appendix II, pp. xiv, xv), this is a pure figment, invented by the schools to support the credit of books, the true nature of which they did not know how to estimate, and which they saw, unless they could thus be tacked on to the Psalms, must be confessed to be destitute of any Divine authority for being accepted as Divine Scripture.
More conclusive still, however, is this, in John x. 34, 35: Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If he called them gods to whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, etc. The Book containing the quoted words, and to which the Lord here refers as the Word of God, and as Scripture which cannot be broken, is the Book of Psalms (lxxxii. 6)! We have the Lords authority, therefore, for the position that the Jews were in error in relegating the Book of Psalms to any lower rank than the Word.
The same Divine Authority expressly speaks of Daniel, the prophet in Matt. Xxiv. 15, one of whose prophecies He at the same time indicated as certain to be fulfilled; which circumstance sufficiently establishes the Book in question as Divine. The proper place for the Book of Daniel, therefore, is in the second category, the Prophets, and thus among the Books of the Word.
The circumstance, lastly, that Lamentations was formerlyand properly when the Lord was in the worldunited to Jeremiah as one book with it, would bring it within the Lords comprehensive acceptance, and thus endorsement, of the collection of Scriptures known to the Jews of His day as the Word, and thus establish it, also, as a Book of the Word.
We have now reached the end of our investigation of this long-vexed, and never previously settled, question of the canon: and it may be confidently claimed that, altogether apart from the fact that the new canon here put forth comes with the authority of Divine revelation, there is more to be said for it, on every ground, as placing the question of what Books are entitled to the pre-eminent dignity of constituting the Divinely inspired Word of God on a satisfactory philosophical, rational, historical and Scriptural basis than for any other now in existence, or known to history.
Our task is ended. The aim with which we set out, and which we have kept steadily in view all along, has been to place those who are willing to receive it, in possession of a new conception of the nature of the Divine Word, which sets everything in it in an entirely new light, and makes it invulnerable to the shafts of the destructive criticism so much and so increasingly in favor at this day, even among those calling themselves Christians; to give some idea of the SPIRITUAL SENSE OF THE WORD now revealed, which transforms its whole aspect and its every feature, and irradiates, with manifest spiritual and Divine Truth, even the darkest and the revolting places of its Letter; and so to assist those who are willing to be assisted, to the attainment of a firm, rational and not less spiritual faith in the Word of God, as the Lords spiritual presence on earth, with which no other books in the world is for a moment comparable.
LEST MAN SHOULD BE IN DOUBT WHETHER THE WORD IS TRULY DIVINE AND SPIRITUAL, ITS INTERNAL SENSEWHICH IN ITS ESSENCE IS SPIRITUAL, AND WHICH IS WITHIN THE EXTERNAL SENSE, WHICH IS NATURAL, AS THE SOUL IS IN THE BODYHAS BEEN REVEALED TO ME BY THE LORD. THIS SENSE IS THE SPIRIT WHICH GIVES LIFE TO THE LETTER; IT CAN, THEREFORE, BEAR WITNESS TO THE DIVINITY AND HOLINESS OF THE WORD, AND CONVINCE EVEN THE NATURAL MAN IF HE IS WILLING TO BE CONVINCED (SWEDENBORGS Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture, no. 4).
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